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#probably more hair than fur but whatever
adobe-outdesign · 7 days ago
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[8/13/20] Leafcutter Bee, Subgenus Sayapis.
Another leafy boy, this time with pretty golden fur.
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from-the-clouds · 9 days ago
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Kiss Me More (Part II) - Zemo/Reader
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Masterlist || Part One
Summary: Part two, read part one if you haven’t already! Sam & Bucky put reader in charge of looking after Zemo....again. Series loosely inspired by this song.
Words: 2.5k
Warnings: Kissing, heavy petting, mentions of sex, minor TFATWS spoilers.
A/N: Wow! I was so shocked on the feedback I got on the first part of this story. It has nearly 800 notes. I’m not used to my writing getting that kind of attention so I really appreciate the love. I decided to make this into at least a 3-4 part series and there will be eventual smut, but I feel like there’s something sweet between these two that goes beyond an obvious physical attraction, so I do want to build that a bit before we get there. This weekend I rewatched TFATWS & Civil War because I’m officially obsessed with Zemo lol. Please let me know what you think, and let me know if you’d like to be added to the taglist. :) 
-----
“Keep an eye on him.”
Y/N watched Bucky and Sam split off again. That was now at least the third time she’d heard that phrase since she arrived in Riga. Little did they know, she was probably the worst person to be put in charge of Zemo. Truthfully, it was starting to be a little insulting.
It was unclear why she’d been brought along on this mission, when half the time Sam and Bucky were talking in hushed tones just out of her earshot. There was always more to the story than they told her, but this time, it felt like she was more out of the loop than ever.
She adjusted the neckline of the sweater she wore out of an abundance of caution, checking subconsciously to make sure it hadn’t exposed the mark Zemo had left on her from the day before. It was a discovery she’d made that morning, and persisted despite her efforts to cover it up with makeup.
“According to those two, I must be the best at babysitting you,” she muttered under her breath. It was petty, so she wasn’t even sure if she wanted him to hear. But he did.
“Babysitting?” Zemo lifted an eyebrow. 
“You know, a nanny, a governess….whatever a Baron’s equivalent is,” she said, looking him in the eye for the first time that day, which was a mistake. He looked so handsome in that long, fur-lined coat, tall and refined, hair styled perfectly. There had to be warrants out for his arrest since escaping prison, and in his current getup, he was hard to miss. 
It wasn’t easy to ignore the stifling tension between them. The Baron hadn’t left her thoughts since she’d closed the door on him the evening before. Now they were alone again. She couldn’t decide if that was thrilling or terrifying, so she decided on both.
“It’s nice of them to give us some alone time,” Zemo stepped close to her, one gloved hand pressing between her shoulder blades. Despite the cool temperature outside, it was the first thing today that had her shivering. 
“Walk with me,” he commanded sternly. She saw no opportunity to refuse as they started in the direction opposite of where Bucky and Sam had disappeared. 
“Zemo-”
“Helmut,” he corrected her. “But go on…”
“We have to focus on figuring out where Donya’s funeral will be,” she said, feeling his hand slide down to settle on the small of her back, trying to inch away, but he just pulled her closer. “We can’t waste time.”
“I know Riga inside and out, that won’t be as difficult as you and your friends think,” he murmured. His proximity was already suffocating. Or maybe comforting. It was hard to tell. “Tell me, what is your business with them? You aren’t an Avenger. This was my first time hearing your name.”
She snorted, finally finding the strength to pull away, and he dropped his hand. That was one thing that had confounded her. He was confident, took liberties with what others would allow, but knew when to stop pushing. There was something alluring to his nature. 
“I’m not,” she responded, wondering how much she was willing to share. When she stole a glance out of the corner of her eyes, his head was lowered, leaning in, listening intently for her response. She wondered if he really cared, or if he was good at pretending. It was easy to believe that he did.
“Bucky and I aren’t that different,” she continued. “That’s why we’re friends. I’m not a super soldier, but I was taught how to fight, how to kill. I followed orders for too long without questioning whether or not I was doing the right thing. And at least now, I think I am.”
“You think,” he repeated, and corrected her again like he had the day before. As much as she wanted some kind of clever or quick quip back, she wore her heart on her sleeve for the moment and shrugged. There was nothing to defend when she still wasn’t sure what responsibilities she had in this world. 
Zemo halted, and she paused too, turning back to look at him. “So you were an assassin,” he murmured, reaching out. Nodding slightly, she lowered her eyes when his gloved thumb brushed across her face. The buttery, overpowering smell of leather took her over as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I would’ve never guessed. Du bist so süß.”
Her knowledge of German was limited, but she could see a flash of what looked like affection in his eyes. He couldn’t be lying, could he? She wondered. She wanted to trust that he wasn’t, wanted to identify every good part of him she could, so she could justify the overwhelming attraction she felt towards him. Something in her just kept pulling forward against her will, like a magnet.
“You’d be surprised,” she answered, but didn’t pull away. The intensity of his gaze made her feel weak, but there was something strangely reassuring in his eyes. It was just the two of them, standing on a crowded sidewalk.
She rose her hand to clasp around his, frowning when she felt the hard loop of a ring on one of his gloved fingers. It had gone unnoticed by her, until now. He still wore a wedding band. 
It would have been easy to vocalize the observation, gauge his reaction, try to regain some upper hand and remind him who exactly he was dealing with. But, it would’ve been pointlessly cruel, as she knew what that felt like to answer that question. Those days were behind her, now. 
As if the universe was scolding her, a loud car horn broke through the perceived silence. His hand dropped from her face, and they began to walk again. 
“I had lots of time to think in prison,” he said after a heady pause in conversation. “About the things I’d done. Whatever intentions you have, to someone, you’re always the enemy. What I thought was important, trying to serve the greater good, it isn’t always worth the trouble. I was trying to protect what I had already lost, the places and people I’d taken for granted.”
Deciphering his words, she took a moment before responding. “That’s actually...very insightful,” she said, partly surprised by what he’d shared, appreciating that he felt her vulnerability, and matched it in his response.
“I know you’re stunned I’m not a brute,” he answered, increasing his pace to a determined strut rather than a lazy stroll. She was forced to keep up with him. “You’ve been told what to think about me by Sam and Bucky.”
She scoffed. “Not just them. The entire world. All the people you’ve hur-”
He halted and turned to face her so quickly, she collided with his chest and her breath caught in her throat. 
“I’m not that man anymore,” his voice was nearly a growl, disgust laced in his features as he looked down at her. 
But as soon as she recognized it, he became expressionless again, backing away. Falling back into step beside him, they continued to walk, a bit faster than they had been before. She followed him, at this point convinced that she might get lost without his guidance, but a little startled by his sudden change in behavior.
“What do you think of Riga?” he asked her as they cut through an alleyway. His voice held none of the venom that it had a few moments ago, so she wondered if she’d just hit a sore nerve.
“It’s beautiful,” she answered, admiring the old brick buildings and fine architecture. “But I think I haven’t had much of a chance to appreciate it.”
“Have you been thinking about me?”
They ducked under an alcove, and she realized he’d carefully led her off the crowded streets. It was much quieter here. She suddenly didn’t feel as protected as she had been with him in the open. The temperature in the shaded space was much lower than expected. And he was standing over her, waiting for some response she didn’t know if she could give. 
“I haven’t forgotten about last night, liebling,” he continued. 
Of course she had been thinking of him. Nearly nonstop. What they’d shared, what it meant. She hadn’t been able to sleep until she relieved herself, fingers rubbing her clit and delving into her warmth, whimpering his name when she finally came. Still, it had done little to quell the ache inside her. 
It was a horrible thing, she’d decided. Objectively horrible, and unprofessional. There was the consideration of accessibility. What did he see in her beyond a means to an end? Was she really going to throw everything she’d worked for away to a man who was going to use her to scratch an itch?
Too much was at stake, Sam and Bucky’s trust, her reputation, her job, and she couldn’t allow it to go on. 
But oh, how much she wanted it to. 
“Yesterday was nice,” she straightened up, holding her own. “I won’t lie to you.”
The corner of his mouth tugged up slightly in a self-satisfied smirk. 
“But I’m not foolish,” she continued. “Coming on to the first woman you see after you get out of jail? Seems pretty convenient.”
At first, the Baron tilted his head to the side, his brows pulled together at her words. But after a moment, the smile returned, and he chuckled. “Is that what you think this is about?”
“Don’t insult me, Helmut,” she said sternly, trying her best not to feel embarrassed. She was only being honest.
“Are you always so severe to yourself?” he asked, tutting lightly. 
It would have been better to say nothing. Why give him anything at all? 
She didn’t answer his question, just backed away from him and began walking in no particular direction, wanting only to increase the space between them and regain her common sense. That was impossible however, as she was jolted backwards before she even knew what was happening, a firm hand on her upper arm, and she was chest to chest with Zemo once more. 
“We were in Madripoor together. I could’ve had my way with many women there if I wanted. But I didn’t.”
“Please-” she rolled her eyes.
“If all I wanted to do was fuck someone, I could have done it by now,” he stalked forward, the air pressure around them dropping, weighed by the tension hanging thick between them. “But that’s not what I want. I want you.”
His words, spoken in a soft, low purr rattled away every bit of resolve she had left in her. Some last ditch effort found her stepping backwards, but her body met the brick wall behind them and she realized he had her cornered. 
In more ways than one, she thought.
Taking in a shaky breath, she looked up at his eyes, clouded with lust. “I know you want me,” he said, not a shred of doubt in his voice. But why should there have been? He was right. 
Her eyes darted around, like someone or something around them was going to jump out and save her from herself. It didn’t go unnoticed. “There’s no need to be scared, liebling. I feel it, too.”
With that, he closed the gap between their lips. He tasted sweet, like the candies he’d been eating back at his flat. Turkish delight. She was drowning in him again, his scent, his touch, everything about him enveloped and beguiled her. Her shirt had bunched up slightly somewhere along their walk and his gloved hands explored the exposed skin, leaving goosebumps in their wake. 
She surrendered, letting him tease open her mouth and claim her wholly. It was still bad, she knew. But there wasn’t any last bit of self-control left in her. 
The layers of clothing between them didn’t allow for the same proximity she’d had to him the evening before. Groaning in delight and frustration, she reached up to tangle and rake her fingers through his hair, as his fingers curled around the top of her sweater, revealing the sensitive skin of her neck. 
“Don’t hide this,” his lips left hers as his eyes focused on the stamp of affection he’d left behind the day before. “Let them see.”
“You know I can’t,” she responded, sheepishly pulling it back into place. Studying her with amiable consideration, his hand rose to brush tenderly across her cheekbone. 
“I thought you’d come to me last night,” she confessed, drawing away slightly, shocked by her own admission. But right now, she didn’t feel the need to put up as much of a facade. He looked positively virile; panting, his cheeks flushed and hair mussed, pupils blown out as he focused on her. To know she was the cause of his current state of disarray gave her an immense amount of satisfaction. A buried, salacious part of her wondered what else she could do to make him look even more unkempt.
“I considered it,” he said, sounding almost timid. “But I want to do this right.” He leaned in, pressed a kiss beneath her ear. “In private, so no one can disturb us,” he continued, lips moving down her neck. “We can take our time, you can be as loud as you’d like.”
The mental image he was currently painting for her was doing very little to strengthen her convictions, whatever those had been. The thought of her legs wrapped around his torso, naked bodies pressed together sent a bolt of electricity through the pit of her stomach, radiating outwards. She wanted his lips on every inch of her skin. Aching at the possibility, the present tease of his teeth nibbling on her collarbone wasn’t helping.
“You know we can’t,” she didn’t try to stop the thought as it came out of her mouth.
“What is there to lose?”
Everything, she thought, but didn’t answer. She couldn’t really, as his gloved hand was trailing slowly under her jacket and sweater, against her bare skin, and cupping her breast through her bra. Whimpering, she couldn’t control the way her body arched against his.
Hooking her knee on his hip, she let him press forward, feeling the warmth of his excitement through his trousers and her jeans. He ground against her once, teasingly, and she moaned softly into his mouth. 
He was the one to pull away, and she was thankful he did. “Think about it, liebling,” he said softly, pressing a tender kiss to her temple. “Sie haben die Kontrolle.”
“We can’t,” she answered again, but even she didn’t believe herself. Raking her hands through her hair and adjusting her rumpled sweater, she straightened up. “We have a job to do.”
Brushing past him out of the alcove, each step she took away from him gave her the self control she desperately needed. She glanced over her shoulder to see him reluctantly trudging behind. At this point, she wasn’t foolish. There were only two ways this could end.
----
Part III
Series Taglist: @juice-1981  @sapphiredreamer26  @tatooineisdry  @marvelsvision @spookycereal-s @trelaney @fireghost-x @booksarekindaneat  @thunderingbats  @felicityofbakerstreet @takacsgram @mischiefmanaged71 @fanfictionedagain @merelyhooper @gyllord @mundaytuesday @friday18eo  @lovegood7553  @adara-wolfhart @a-djarin @farawaywasteland @sky-writes-stuff @fuckinglittlekitten @katyasrussianaccent @agent-jbarnes  @neoarchipelago @pattispunk @kpopnena @purebloodwitch @spookyconsultingcriminal @msmarvelwrites @professorrw @lazyradeecal @captainrexstan @notyourfuckingbusinesss
Let me know if you’d like to be tagged, or if I forgot to tag you for some reason! :)
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skair-rose · 23 days ago
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Pathologic TMA Au Part 1
Hey since the racism towards asians within the games and fanbase, and the recent news about pedophilia have made engaging with Pathologic is too triggering for me tointeract with (unless it’s in short bursts) that I’m at the point where I’m considering taking up tai chi again, here’s some plans and some parts I had for the Magnus Archives Au that I spent a lot of time planning/writing, but ultimately couldn’t release.
Daniil goes to Still water, but quickly leaves before meeting Eva because once he entered the town, he already knew it was untethered and closer to the entities. So...archivist senses on steriods I guess
Daniil could feel The Eye guiding him to Peter.  The story behind his creations gnawing on him like a desperate dog. The door was still closed, but he could hear the waves of thought crashing against it. The name of the Kains did elicit some interest, but now the very thought of it caused ripples in his mind, urging him to taste the fear he so desperately craved.
He could sense a deep sadness and loss within Peter, but with his current mental state, making a statement might harm him. He wasn’t sure what an archivist could do if he felt a violent need to take all he can from someone marked.
When he began this job, the mental strain was apparent in both him and those who gave their statements. He has grown to like…he has grown accustomed to horror. Pulling statements has become a routine he may begrudgingly call ‘comfortable’, but Peter had never felt his will being torn away from him.
Also, Andrey would beat him to death.
Daniil was supposed to spend Day 0 looking for statement of The Stranger, Notkin would give a statement on Barley The Barber striking out a day after something took and replaced him (Not Them). Here’s some other stuff I wrote for this scene that weren’t important, but I wrote anyway
“What do you think you’re staring at?” the kid with fiery red hair straightened his posture. Probably to make up for the height disadvantage. Despite his brave face, Daniil could sense his uneasiness under an archivist’s gaze.
The child had scratches on his hands, with dust coating it lightly. His brown jacket had bits of fur clinging to it.
“Trying to look for your missing upper lip?”
-
“What’s shabnak adyr? I have heard of it in a podcast, but my knowledge is limited”
“Oh, the Goop podcast.”
“What?”
“Ghosts Of Our Past. Vlad Junior’s podcast. Yeah I don’t know about him, but he studies the kin’s culture.”
“Was his information factually correct?”
“I don’t know. I don’t listen to his vanity project. All I know is that he fought with someone on Twitter about it. Can’t remember who it was- probably someone from the kin .”
“You have internet here?”
“It’s not stable. It comes and goes. Some of the older teens have a lethal drinking game about it- take a shot every time the movie you’re watching lags.” The boy raised his hands to his chest “Look, the Steppe people know more about that than I do, okay?! I’m not answering any more of your questions! Your eyes freak me out!”
“That’s rude to say, but fair enough.”  
Daniil asks the towns people about any face stealers, but most only talk about shabnak adyr and how The Kains announced earlier that day that an archivist was arriving. Someone mentions Anna Angel was part of the circus of the other
Some people start talking about the kin in relation to the legend:
“Of course, you could try talking to Aspity. She’s one of the kin’s elders.”
The woman beside her, possibly intoxicated, spoke up. “Aspity knows all the local bitches, alright. None of them surprise her. Except maybe. Maria, but that’s neither here nor there. Most people fear Maria after she killed her boyfriend. By accident- or so they say.”
Daniil barely had time to process whatever murder Maria committed, before another woman chimed in, “Aspity keeps to herself mostly, but you can find her during the Town-On-Gorkhon’s scrabble night. Near the local theatre. At least, when any of the Olgimskys, Saburovs or Kains aren’t there. ”
Daniil has a meet cute with Eva in the rain, where she shares her umbrella. Eva has a culturally appropriative tattoo she doesn’t know the real meaning to instead of...that attire. They both seem familiar to each other.
The next day (Day 1), Isidor, Anna Angel and Simon Kain die
Due to Daniil’s fame and actions yesterday, everything goes to shit with witch hunts for not-them or shabnak adyr
A Tragedian appears, and says it’s a servant of the eye (I wanted Daniil to have something to bounce his ideas off of since the podcast uses a lot of monologues)
“Did you hear? Simon Kain has died. His body will be prepared for an autopsy. You were a doctor weren’t you? Perhaps you would like take a gander, Archivist.”
“What do you want? Did my employers send you? And what’s that ridiculous get up you’re wearing?”
“A tragedian must act, even in stages drowned in blood. I am playing the helpful messenger to a fool. Shall I remind you that you need to eat, sleep and keep your reputation up? Need I remind you that if you die, that’s it. You no longer get chances to succeed.”
Daniil groaned, stepping forward as commandingly as he could. “I am no fool. I am the Archivist. Do you want to challenge me?”
“Don’t be silly! The Eye does not wish to harm itself.”
“What are you?!”
The thing bowed gracefully, putting one foot forward and extending it’s arms into a wing-like position “Think of us as informants, although you may call us prompters or reflections. Now go, Archivist. They are waiting.”
Daniil gives a statement, that’s basically the plot but he’s summarizing snarkily
Andrey texts him later that night
“Look at this loser.
“He’s fucking huge.”
Guy left awhile ago cause I made a deal whith him about getting me twyre.
He parked an entire bull outside my pub. He said it was too good of a deal to pass up. Asked me to watch him while he got to work.
Would love to have a brawl with him, but he doesn’t act interested at all- Ugh, Andrey, I’m not reading all of that.”
Daniil rolled his eyes and scrolled down faster, skipping some messages. There’s a five minute gap after some text about knives.
“I asked if we should flex our muscles at each other and he ignored my question altogether. Asshole. Let it slide cause he got me what I needed.
He looks like he’s about to pass out from blood loss. Hilarious.”
The next gap was a little longer.
“Cops came and arrested him for manslaughter. What am I gonna do with his fucking bull?
Nevermind. It vanished.
I just realized I sent the wrong pic. Here .”
Upon seeing the image, Daniil pressed his mouth in a thin line. The man was large, and seemingly hunched over in pain. Locks of medium brown hair stuck out at odd angles. However, there was only one thing that got Daniil’s attention. That would be what was staining his skin.
“…It’s a guy covered in blood.” He stated, somewhat disgusted. “Can’t see his face it’s too far away and blurred…it looks like he talked to Peter…”
He scrolled down to see a few more messages.
“A twelve year old somehow got in my bar.
I banned her for spouting religious nonsense.
But then I struck up a business deal with her. Same one as the other guy.
Hope this one doesn’t get arrested.
I’m still not letting her look at my dancers though. She’s basically a fetus.”
Another gap.
“Apparently the Saburovs adopted her a few hours ago. Day 1, and they’re already doing a terrible job.
I’m not surprised.
I’ve been told she’s a child saint. I thought a pub would be the last place you’d find them. Heard she was able to keep someone from dying through touch.”
Looking at the time, the last text was sent around the 2nd hour of the riots.
“Are you okay?”
“Is Eva okay?”
Daniil calls him, but it’s Peter who picks up the phone. Andrey’s asleep, and the two talk for awhile
Even with Daniil’s attention, Peter was still silent. Seconds passed.
“Well what?”
“Boundaries, Daniil, only exist if you’re acknowledge them. Gravity is a beast that can be tamed. Bent to your will. Andrey believes man was made to conquer you know.” He sighed. “I can’t bring myself to do anything.”
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt,” Daniil replied, half-smug, half irritated. “That doesn’t answer my question about The Polyhedron.”
“Yes.” He replied. He took another swig. “I suppose it doesn’t.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll ask you one your more sober days. To quote the Romans, Ad astra per aspera”
“To quote myself, perhaps getting drunk will do you some good, my friend.” Peter let out a hollow laugh. “How did you even end up being an archivist? I heard you wanted to be a doctor.
“I did.” I was.
“What happened then?”
“The institute peaked my curiosity. I only wanted answers, but I was offered a job upon arriving.”
“And you took it?”
“I couldn’t refuse.”
Daniil’s mouth remained open, as if to give another excuse. Yet none came out. He wasn’t sure yet if he could trust Peter.
-
“The last few years have numbed my usual skepticism. I used believe in the strength of logic, a tool that could overcome everything. Now I have nothing but unusual dreams, and I find myself tossed into waves were the act of creation and destruction are one and the same. I feel like an echo of what I was.”
“You sound like a natural citizen of this town. Ha, it’s strange. I’m not usually this talkative, but I’ve talked a lot today. Perhaps you might find a home here. After all. This place is no stranger to unusual dreams.”
That night, webs pull Daniil to the theatre. The silk twists around him and two other people. It’s a ritual, and they have all been anchored to each other by The Web avatar Mark Imortell. All of them monologue against their will, but they’re unable to put up any sort of fight. It’s sort of like they’re dreaming, but only partially aware of it
“There’s more of me to love. A hundred, at least. Those who follow me are those who have been abandoned, tossed aside. I can give them the affection they crave. All I ask is that they submit to our embrace. Can you feel it? It pulses loudly, eager for you to join. That’s all I can say. We will speak to you ourselveses when the time is right. You only have to extend your hands.”
“I’ve been away for so long. If I had any family left, perhaps they would be worried that a Burakh such as myself was used to more conventional practices. Still, our family is different than most dynasties. No matter how much it calls to us, we take control of its power. Not out of greed, but of duty. Perhaps that is the real reason our line will end with me. Time and time again, we have ignored its voice. Angering and pleasing it with each new cut. It feeds on the tiny shreds we produce, but it has grown tired of us. I will continue to be defiant. Burakhs are stubborn that way- choosing the path to warmth despite the ever-present fear.”
Despite how hard Daniil struggled, his mouth moved. His expression changed to reflect the prewritten script, and he was helpless to comply to the theatre’s desires.
“My mind has changed far too much since the institute. Am I still human? I bleed like any other, feel pain, feel joy- I may even be the only human in this town. I do not hate it now, but I could soon learn to. Nearly nothing can escape my notice. It’s only a matter of time before I see all the fractures. It’s waiting for me to break through my own husk, and this town will bring me closer to my true goal. But at what cost?”
-
 “How was that? Did it record well?” The director asked. “Well- What do you mean-! If they could record a podcast under a bloody duvet, we can record in a bloody theatre! Just try to clean it up in post!”
-
“Now, this time will be different. Adapting to a new medium requires some changes, unfortunately- instead of choosing between leads, there were only be one- you! You , Archivist, are perfect for this role. For you see, the other two can have as many deaths as they like. You on the other hand, can only have one. Choices will be limited, as the only interaction between us and them is voyeurism. That also means your voices must be louder! Try not to mutter your lines, archivist. We would very much like to hear how your story unravels.”
“Any advice?”
“Yes, Archivist, try not to trip over your strings! Burakh, keep your mask from slipping! And Clara, well, try to be on time! And by that, I don’t mean you can be too early!”
The director clapped his hands together in excitement, grinning. “This will be a fun change for The Bachelor. This one has already been broken by supernatural forces. He can allow himself to believe what science cannot support. I will warn you that this run might be less forgiving, given it’s derived from a tragedy. But not to worry, the scope will be as small as it should be, and it will be a while before you reach the depths of true despair! And time, well, we might be more forgiving. How does 20 days sound? How about 14? Or perhaps 9 days will suffice?”
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shinsoutm · 29 days ago
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a big ass masterlist of assorted headcanons.
hitoshi likes to start his mornings with yoga, coffee, and chess.
it’s not that he never sleeps, he just sleeps better with other people around and has trouble sleeping at night. he naps in the common area or in his friend’s dorms all the time.
he’s one of those kids who’s naturally good at school and doesn’t need to study a lot to pass his classes, but he does anyways because it makes him feel productive.
just like he rarely sleeps a full night, he rarely eats a full meal. he prefers naps and snacks. he eats a lot of granola bars and chocolate - covered espresso beans and chips.
if you catch him reading, it’s probably a book on chess or a biography of a chess pro.
mina introduces him to eyeliner and he wears it when he wants to feel like a badass.
he learns how to drive a motorcycle before a car and he’s much better at driving a motorcycle than a car.
he likes shitty reality television and cooking competitions, he absolutely watches great british bake - off and masterchef and yells at the contestants like he can cook anything besides mac n cheese.
when he comes back from his big eight - year mission, he adopts a cat. he walks into the shelter and the first one he sees is this absolutely massive black cat with matted fur who hisses at him as soon as hitoshi makes eye contact, but his name is keith, so naturally hitoshi brings him home that day. he spends three days building keith a cat tree from scratch.
he is both a total coffee snob and someone who mixes redbull with gas station coffee and chugs it. which one he is on any given day is anyone’s guess.
he used to try to tame his hair, now he just lets it do whatever it wants. he brushes it and besides that, lets it exist however it sees fit.
he’s the type of person to offer his help with most situations but in a very non-pushy and almost apathetic way. he’ll overhear someone complaining about a problem and say “oh, we could do x and y and that would help,” if they don’t seem immediately receptive, he’ll just shrug and walk away. he never tries to fix the same problem twice.
that being said, with close friends, he is a problem solver and would rather brainstorm ways to fix things rather than just listening to people vent.
he does have villain friends while he’s undercover, especially that long mission. it really changes the way hitoshi sees villains and affects the kind of hero he is when he comes back.
he’s good with kids, mostly because he got practice with his little cousin and eri.
his apartment is filled with the absolute bare minimum. he has nothing more than what he needs. he rents an apartment that isn’t fancy, but has reliable building maintenance and is lowkey enough to not be noticed. his apartment is made for himself and no more than one person to be over for company at any given time. his cat has more furniture than he does.
he gets an undercut and dyes the shaved part black for a while. he likes, but ends up shaving it back down to his roots after a few months.
his hero costume incorporates a lot of layers and has some lightweight armor-like material around his torso.
he’s absolutely the cryptid friend. he emerges every now and then from his dorm but nobody ever actually sees him go back, he just comes out? he also sends memes at the weirdest hours.
he has major issues with authority and doesn’t take being bossed around well, which makes his entire time at u.a. and his hero career a little difficult.
he cries the first time he sees control freak merch. like full - on cries.
he also gets really emotional when he sees someone wearing his merch, he just thinks it’s so cool.
he is. so good. at making pillow forts.
when / if he’s in a relationship, he doesn’t get jealous in the sense that he’ll like. be genuinely upset or anything, but if he sees his partner getting hit on, he’ll like. come up and put his arm around them and be like, “no, please, continue hitting on the love of my life. it’s fine, i agree, they’re super hot,” and without fail, it makes them uncomfortable every time.
he has several denim jackets covered in patches from hot topic. like at least three. he insists they’re all the same one and you will never see two of them out at the same time.
hitoshi has definitely caused fires in the dorms trying to like. make pasta. like, he cannot cook. at all.
he eventually learns how to cook, but he learns while he’s undercover, so the shit he can make is like. grilled cheese with tinfoil and a lighter.
he has lil pouches incorporated into his hero costume for first aid stuff and general like. useful items. one just has cat treats in it. he also has one with trail mix in it. he has gotten them confused before but he’s so like. stubborn and prideful that he won’t admit it, so he’s been like. on patrol and reached into a pouch and pulled out a small handful of cat treats and tossed em in his mouth and the only indication that he’s realized what happens is if you look close, you can pinpoint the moment his soul leaves his body and then he just. tries to down them as fast as possible.
he is really really really, like genuinely a little scarily good at reading people. most of the time he chooses to ignore what he notices.
he’s very accustomed to people fearing him, so he tends towards like. customer service kinds of politeness and casually jabbing at insecurities he picks up on to make people go away. when he likes someone, he’ll avoid trying to hurt them.
a lot of his sass and attitude is masked behind like. being super overly polite, like sugary sweet levels of nice, but in that super fake way. again, customer service kinds of politeness. the one exception is his dad, who he will straight - up call a raging bag of dicks to his face.
he has friends in general studies but don’t tell him that. his class really does support him and hitoshi is so like. casually helpful, even though he claims he doesn’t want friends, he’s actually got his own lil group of pals. he stays friends with a lot of them even when he transfers, but he doesn’t realize they’re friends until like almost the end of second year.
psychology nerd. he reads so many psych textbooks and essays on body language and all that. he finds it helpful and fascinating.
he likes to keep up this calm, cool façade, but when he gets really excited, he literally jumps in the air and has the biggest grin and talks so fast and just. is amazingly expressive. he usually collects himself within a few minutes. the last time he got like this was when aizawa offered to train him.
hitoshi is usually really bad at expressing his feelings so he just. doesn’t. if he actually goes to someone with his problems, just know he will willingly die for them. or kill. or maim / seriously injure / steal / commit arson / etc.
his quirk causes migraines and leaves like. shadows of the target’s emotions in the back of his mind. he’s gotten better at recognizing these but it does get bad sometimes and can influence his mood. if he does too much, he goes into sensory overload and needs a few hours alone, at least.
he doesn’t know how to ride a bike, but he can rollerblade.
he doesn’t say things he doesn’t mean. doesn’t see the point in it. unless there is a point, an actual reason for him to lie, and then he will.
hitoshi will work himself to the point of exhaustion and then keep working and keep working and keep working until he dies or falls apart. and if he falls apart, he’s gonna ask sero for some tape, patch himself up, and keep going.
he listens to podcasts more than he listens to music, and he listens to music a lot.
he was homeschooled until middle school and got bullied a little in middle school. mostly behind his back, because the first time someone made the mistake of saying something to his face, he used his quirk on them. he didn’t do anything bad, just made them do a little dance, but nobody really talked to him after that. if they did, they either wanted something or it was a dare.
hitoshi has never backed down from a dare and he never will. try him.
denki got him into tiktok and now its everyone’s problem. he quotes tiktoks and hums the songs all the time.
he’d be. really good at reading shakespeare. like, i don’t know why, but he’s so dramatic, it just makes sense.
he’s really good at impressions and accents even without his persona cords. he can mimic cats with a scary accuracy. when he comes back from that big mission and eventually starts to push for top ten, his rankings in terms of popularity shoot up because he starts doing interviews making fun of other pros in their voices and doing impression games on talk shows.
hitoshi doesn’t drink. he does socially, when he’s undercover, but when he comes back he finds himself relying on alcohol a little too much so he stops completely.
he does smoke cigarettes and weed, though the former much more than the latter. he blames the bakusquad for the weed thing. he gets cuddly and giggly when he’s high, and will eat his weight in nachos.
denki gets hitoshi to post a thirst trap on tiktok one time. it is the most liked video on denki’s tiktok and hitoshi never does it again.
he impulse buys snacks. he hoards them in his room like a snack dragon and he will share in return for melatonin gummies.
the day hitoshi’s quirk manifested, he couldn’t control it. he brainwashed both his parents. it was terrifying, seeing them go from smiling and happy to completely blank and empty. hitoshi remembers feeling their fear, their overwhelming fear and concern and knowing instinctively that his parents were afraid of him. he cried for hours, until one of the family’s staff found them all sitting in the living room while hitoshi just sobbed, unable to lift the control. the chef, who had known the family for years, knew about the shinsou’s particular quirks and had met hitoshi’s aunt, who had a similar story about the manifestation of her quirk. he called her, and hiroko came rushing over immediately. knowing how her quirk worked, she managed to snap hitoshi’s parents out of it, but the damage was done. any questions of hitoshi’s, or even open - ended statements of his, weren’t answered until he learned to control his quirk. hiroko helped, given that she had learned to control hers, but hitoshi had nightmares about that day for years and sometimes still does.
i’ve said it before i’ll say it again: if he can play waluigi in a mario game, he fucking will. starts as a joke but he kinda likes him.
he plays animal crossing, stardew valley, breath of the wild, games he can really just shut his mind off and enjoy playing.
he’s a sucker for short, story - based indie games.
also rouge lite games! slay the spire, binding of isaac, hades, stuff he can come back to and roughly know what to expect.
i like to think that sometimes class a gets together and watches the more easily scared ones play horror games, and they do convince hitoshi to play, but he’s completely stone-faced through the entire thing. like, he just...doesn’t react. he does provide witty commentary, though.
speaking of class a: you CANNOT TELL ME that they don’t own every jackbox game and have biweekly game nights. hitoshi participates in every single one. he does so without even needing to be invited. he’s either super good at them or horrible, there is no in between.
also: they try to play keep talking and nobody explodes in teams, but hitoshi gets banned because he’s scary good at it. both at disarming the bomb and reading the instructions.
he plays among us on his phone all the time. he actually prefers being a crewmate. he mains black, uses the crewmate hat or the crown and has the mini crewmate. he calls the hat and the mini crewmate his minions.
he does own a switch, but doesn’t get it until halfway through his second year. it’s a grey switch lite and he didn’t really play games until he got it, but he watched denki play animal crossing once and was sold. he doesn’t tell anyone he has it because he’s a little embarrassed after making fun of them for always playing video games.
the first game he gets is animal crossing. the second is chess ultra. the day he finds out he can play chess on the switch is coincidentally the same day he decides he’d rather be alone in his bedroom rather than anywhere else.
hitoshi mains waluigi in mario kart because denki thinks it’s funny and he likes seeing his friends laugh.
hitoshi is pagan and into witchy, occult things. he has a small crystal collection and does tarot readings in the common room on saturday nights. he definitely believes in and does not fuck with ghosts.
he feeds every stray cat he comes across. all of them. by the end of third year, u.a. has a small colony of strays sustained purely by hitoshi and probably aizawa.
hitoshi goes absolutely fucking feral to like. early 2000s pop punk.
he’s a bad driver. he drives like he doesn’t fear death or cops. he’s one of those bad drivers that’s really good at being bad, though, like he’s never been in an accident but every time he drives, its a close call.
starting his first year, he dresses as a cat for halloween, but it starts with just cat ears and the next year its cat ears and whiskers and then he adds a tail and it just continues until a few years after graduation he shows up in like. full rum tum tugger from cats cosplay but the transition from cat ears to furry was so slow and subtle and he refuses to answer questions about it. this is rum tum tugger, btw.
hitoshi is kind of a theatre kid but like a closeted theatre kid. he doesn’t talk about it but cast recordings make up an alarming number of his playlists.
he insists that he has no friends in class 1a, but he also acts suspiciously like everyone’s friend. he does face masks with mina, plays pranks on the bakusquad with denki, studies with izuku and iida, he pretty much manages to be everyone’s friend but denies it.
hitoshi’s room is incredibly sparse, he doesn’t really like decorating. he only brings a few things from home, like his chess board and a picture of him and his favorite aunt and cousins.
if anyone asks about his dad, he says increasingly cryptic shit. it starts with “what’s a dad?” and passes through “i consumed him in the womb” and “fathers are but a mystery” on the way to “you mean me?”
hitoshi only uses his quirk on his classmates to do dumb shit. like, yeah, he’ll brainwash sero, but only to make him recreate scenes from spiderman.
he has bad taste in movies and unironically likes shitty horror movies. this gets better with the help of his classmates but he’ll still watch sharknado happily.
hitoshi vibes with all of class a. all of them. hitoshi does not want friends, he does mean to make them, but he does anyways. he won't admit it ever. he will never fucking call a single motherfucker in class a his friend. ever. he will not. he actively says they are not his friends. however.
he tries everything sato makes. everything. if sato makes something, hitoshi is right there to taste it and give feedback. most of the time its delicious, when he does have something to say, its honest.
he has self care/spa nights with mina and sometimes with the entire bakusquad. he gossips with mina, plays games with denki, just straight vibes with sero and kirishima, and bonds over making fun of everyone with katsuki.
he and hakagure absolutely vibe. they just do. he gets along well with her, he enjoys her company and her personality and he feels comfortable talking to someone that also will most likely be an underground hero.
it takes a while for him amd ojiro to patch things up but hitoshi does make amends. he doesn't apologize necessarily but he does explain himself and say that there were better ways to go about what he needed to do. they get along, after a while. they aren't the best of friends, but hitoshi really does think he's a cool guy.
he and tokoyami share poetry with each other. hitoshi actually likes poetry a lot and i can see him and tokoyami like...trading poetry books and having little private poetry readings. it's nice. dark shadow likes it. hitoshi and tokoyami definitely bring out the dark academia in each other.
for jirou, its music. of course it is. he thinks she's so cool and just. adores her style and loves to hear her sing and he asks if she can teach him how to play guitar and she helps him. they get along really well.
shoji and him aren't super close, but they definitely talk shop a lot, like they're both really level headed and realistic and i feel like hitoshi would consider him a valuable source of reasonable but firm advice.
aoyama is a little dramatic for hitoshi, BUT hitoshi is actually dramatic, they're just dramatic in different ways. aoyama and hitoshi are dramatic opposites. so when they're together, you have flamboyant, loud aoyama, and then hitoshi hitting you with "you cannot fathom the exhaustion my soul experiences."
momo and hitoshi play chess together. they are absolutely chess buddies. hitoshi definitely is less relaxed around her because of her being like. very proper, and him being purple garbage, but he does really appreciate her intelligence and he definitely admires her. she introduces to him to tea and he's really picky about it but he does always accept if she's making it.
if bakusquad + hitoshi do self care nights, uhhh dekusquad + hitoshi do murders. thats mostly a joke but hitoshi meets the chaotic energy that is like...a boy who smiles as he breaks his bones, the fast boy willing to commit a real murder, shoto "run to an alley with no context besides izuku wants me there" todoroki, the one who tried to drown mineta at the usj, and the girl who would not fucking back down against katsuki until she couldnt stand.
deku and him are fast friends, its impossible not to be. he just really admires him. hitoshi will back iida up a lot on the rules thing but also sometimes he's the one breaking the rules. him and todoroki steal their dads' credit cards and use them to fund the dekusquad shenanigans. hitoshi fucking digs tsu's vibe she is hands down one of his favorite people in the world. not even just class a, just in general. they're both so blunt, god, its amazing. and him and ochako like. they just get along. theres not any reason, its just that she's super fuckin nice and he's okay with that. he lets her be nice and eventually starts being nice back.
bonus: he gets along w a lot of class b too! he actually is friends w monoma and kendo, he helps her reign him in sometimes, and he and tetsu get along just fine.
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scftslut · a month ago
Hello I’m glad you write for Mirio!!! I wanted to request a scenario about Mirio and his boyfriend who has a lamb stuffie he carries around all the time because it’s a comfort item for him. Since he is a boy people have always made fun of him for it and if he doesn’t have it with him he gets really anxious and freaks out. Of course Mirio treats the stuffie like it’s human and always helps find it when his boyfriend misplaces it or it gets stolen. So one day it gets misplaced or whatever and Mirio has to help find it and calm his boyfriend down.
warning: anxiety attack i believe? i don't know as i do not experience them if it isn't i'll change the warning to something else or if it's not an anxiety attack and is something else i'll change it too. i don't want to misrepresent people! i don't know anymore :(
a/n: short n sweet, i'm like ill today so it's probably shit sorry bby and sorry it took so long. thanks for requesting! also um is this close to his personality? idk if it is
!lowercase intended!not proofread!
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you were known throughout ua for your 'unusual' habit which was taking your lamb stuffi wherever you went. it was your comfort item - you couldn't go anywhere without them. you treated your stuffie as if they were alive, you often mumbled to them and act like they had replied back. it brought much joy to you that lamb lamb didn't judge you whenever you spoke and they gave the best cuddles for when you were feeling down.
mirio never once judged you for how you were acting around the lamb and had to remind himself that you loved him more than the stuffie ( you don't <3 ). he couldn't help but often stare at you, admiring all your cute features and how when you were anxious you would hug the stuffie closer or play with their fur to calm you down. it also helped him notice if you did this that it would be cuddle hours and him telling you everything he loves about you <3 and kisses!!
it wasn't all positives though, not everyone at ua thought of it as cute. teasing would constantly happen all day sometimes even people taking your stuffie :( but mirio would always be there to protect you and get it back. you often called him you knight in shining armour.
well he was your knight until your stuffie was unable to be found. you had been looking for hours, retaking your steps and still nothing. the longer lamb lamb went the more anxious you had gotten. it had gotten to the point where you couldn't stop shaking and the tears wouldn't stop flooding. your breathing had became rapid, you hands had reached to the top of your head, gripping strands of your hair. you had begun to restless and your breath had shortened. you wanted needed mirio.
as if by some fate, you're lover had appeared. his once smiling face turned into worry when the had saw the state you were in. he couldn't bare to see his boyfriend in such pain. mirio slowly approached you, not wanting to frighten you, and sat down before you. he did a research in case something like this ever occurred and softly spoke "honey? everything is going to be okay. let's just focus on your breathing right now" he had his signature smile on which always calmed you down 🥺. mirio helped you count down from ten and repeatedly did this with you as you steadied your breathing patterns. around ten minutes after mirio had helped you, you had slowly became more calm but it wasn't stopping your wondering thoughts from coming in.
two hours later, you had calmed down and cuddled up close to mirio. you looked up at him and softly spoke "i- it's lamb lamb :( i haven't found them, i've checked everywhere and- and i don't know where they've gone. oh my god, what if- what if someone took them? i can't, i need them mirio. what if i don't find them-" your boyfriend pulled you closer, kissing your forehead as he did, and replied "we'll find them bunny, i promise. if we don't it doesn't matter as we won't ever stop. now, let's get up and go found lamb lamb!" mirio pulled you up and grabbed you by the hand as you ran together looking for your lamb lamb.
bonus scene:
mirio beating up the people who stole lamb lamb 🤭💕
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heyiwrotesomethings · a month ago
Text
Paws
Shinobu Kochou x Fem Reader
A/N: (picks up S.O. turning into a cat fanfics) I just think they’re neat. Shinobu might not like it, but it's better than those toy-story-looking-baby-head-spiders from Natagumo Mountain, am I right? Word Count: 7,999
Shinobu had a choice variety of things she’d have liked to say in that moment. Many were colorful, but few could be said in polite company. Still, Shinobu let the words fly free, for she knew it didn’t matter what she yelled out to the universe. Not unless someone could translate the pitiful meows that fell from her whiskered maw.
Yes, Shinobu knew that demon she had destroyed the night prior had done something strange to her with its blood art, but she had prepared herself for every probable poison or venom that had entered her skin. She wasn’t careless, there just wasn’t an antidote she had that could cure the ailment that had befallen her as she slept.
When she had awoken in the unfamiliar surroundings of the inn she was boarding, she didn’t notice an immediate difference. She stretched groggily, yawned, exhaled... but when went to muss up her hair to scratch an itch tickling at her scalp, she caught sight of a little black paw instead of her hand.
She darted backward, getting caught in the sea of covers and clothing, ensnaring herself like a roll of fish and rice encased in seaweed. She struggled for a moment, groaning to herself. At least, it was supposed to be a groan. The sound that met Shinobu’s ears sounded more like the warning sound of an agitated alley cat. She ceased her wiggling immediately, frozen. She tentatively opened her mouth, then closed it, then opened it again.
“Meow...?”
No. Oh no, that was not at all what Shinobu had wanted to say. She tried again.
“Mew.”
Different, but no less depressing.
“Mowww.”
Now that just sounded down right pitiful.
Shinobu wiggled against the weight of the fabrics around her lithe body, somehow managing to, quite literally, claw her way free.
She took a look at her surroundings. Her haori was draped over the hanging rack near the room’s desk. On the desk sat her uniform, neatly folded with her butterfly hairpin sitting on top and her nichirin blade propped up against the worn, wooden chair. Below her she saw the yukata she had worn to bed crumpled in the sheets of the futon and the little black paw she had seen before had been joined by another just beside it.
Shinobu skittered back a meter, dismayed when the paws followed the action. She spun around on the futon and caught a glimpse of a fluffy black tail and blanched. Well, as best she could in her current predicament.
‘No, no, no...’ Shinobu thought to herself as she clumsily made her way to the desk. She recalled a small hand mirror she had seen the night before. Surely that would clear this whole thing up, right? She shimmied, preparing herself for the first jump, making it to the chair. She cringed at the sound of her blade clattering to the ground before jumping again to the flat surface of the desk. Shinobu spotted the hand mirror and cautiously pawed towards it. She closed her eyes, inhaling deeply before leaning over the glass. Then she cracked an eye open, peering down.
Purple, yes, that was familiar. Those were her eyes, but she certainly didn’t have shiny, black fur and whiskers and little black, triangle shaped ears on the top of her head and—
“Mowww!” Shinobu cursed aloud, finding some strange feeling of satisfaction in knocking the hand mirror to the floor below. Yet that was quickly doused by the sense of dread that hung over her.
She, Kochou Shinobu, had been turned into a detestable, furry little creature. A cat.
“Is everything alright in there miss? I heard a couple loud thumps coming from here.”
There was no human reply of course, but Shinobu leapt off of the desk and padded towards the door, pawing at it, hoping the innkeeper’s daughter would let her curiosity get the better of her and open the door.
“Miss? Are you well?”
No, Shinobu certainly was not well. But if the girl could let her out of this room she could see herself feeling just a small fraction better. She clawed at the wooden frame. If she had to pay for the damages so be it.
“Miss, I’m coming in. Pardon the intrusion...”
The door finally slid to the side and the innkeeper’s daughter peered inside.
“Hello?”
“Meow.”
The girl startled, her head snapped down to her feet. Shinobu sat in front of her expectantly, waiting for what she wasn’t sure.
“Tou-san?” The girl called down the hallway, stepping back from the cat, “Tou-san, the woman who checked in last night is gone. She left all her stuff and, and there’s a cat in here!”
“What are you saying child? Huh.” The innkeeper appeared in the doorway and blinked before frowning deeply. “I didn’t discuss lodgings for a pet with her. Was she trying to shorthand me?”
Shinobu’s tail twitched at the insinuation.
“Well, looks like she’s long gone now. Nothing to do about it now.” The innkeeper sighed.
“But, her clothes are still here and her katana... I can’t imagine she left them there on purpose.”
“Well, we have her address in the book. We’ll have someone take her belongings there and get the money we’re owed for their safe return... and the money for any damages this animal may have caused,” he reached out to pet Shinobu, but understandably the Hashira turned cat batted the hand away. “I’ll get Daisuke on it, that boy’s been getting too comfortable anyway. Gather up all her belongings will you, Hibari.”
“Yes, father.”
The innkeeper nodded then continued on down the hall. Hibari cautiously made her way past the threshold of the room and Shinobu eyed her warily from the doorway as the young girl, probably around Aoi’s age, gathered her belongings and folded them all together with care before setting them into a travel bag. Shinobu was pleased that her privacy was kept largely intact. The only thing the young girl openly scrutinized was her nichirin blade.
“This is so cool.” Hibari mumbled to herself before laying the blade across the opening of the bag. She then turned to Shinobu, couching to the floor with the bag outstretched in front of her. “Here kitty kitty, want to go for a ride?”
Shinobu’s eyes narrowed, she didn’t much appreciate how the girl cooed at her like she was a child. She stayed in place, her nose upturned.
“Oh don’t be like that. I’m sure it’ll be a long journey home. I’d sit in the bag if I were you.”
Shinobu stood firm. If she had to have four legs, she was going to use them. Hibari sighed and stood with the bag over her shoulder.
“Alright, suit yourself,” Hibari made to exit the room, “come on, little kitty.”
Shinobu resented that, yet she pawed after the girl. They exited the inn and found a young man stretched out in the grass.
“Daisuke-nii, here are all the traveler’s belongings. Tou-san gave you the address, right?” Hibari asked.
Daisuke groaned and sat up with his hand outstretched to take the bag, “yeah,” he noticed Shinobu sitting near his sister’s feet and sneered, “do I really need to take that thing with me too?”
Shinobu’s tail swished, agitated.
“Don’t be mean. The poor thing is probably homesick,” Hibari pouted, “I can’t believe that lady would just leave her here.”
Homesick, yes, Shinobu had been off on missions for the better part of three weeks. She was finally meant to go home today but like this, as a cat of all things, was not how she wanted to do it. She just wanted to walk home like a normal person, hug all her girls and catch up with the goings on at the estate, and spend some much needed alone time with her (Y/n). Was that so much to ask for?
“Whatever, it’s just a cat Hibari.” Daisuke groused. “If it decides to run off before I get to the place, I’m not taking responsibility for it. I’m just gonna drop this off, and get our money.”
“You better take good care of this cat, Nii-chan!” Hibari frowned, crossing her arms, “I’ll never forgive you if something bad happens to her! Just look at how sweet she is.”
Daisuke looked into Shinobu’s eyes and found his distaste for the feline mirrored back at him.
“There is nothing sweet looking about that thing.” Daisuke grunted as he stood to his full height, bag slung over his shoulder.
“Just try to be nice, okay?” Hibari asked.
“Sure, yeah, yeah, come on vermin. The sooner we leave, the sooner I can get home.” Daisuke made to scoop up Shinobu, but she side stepped away, slapping his hand for good measure.
“Ow! You mangy little—“
“Daisuke!” Hibari warned, giving him a pointed look.
“Fine! Just don’t slow me down. I’m leaving.” Daisuke rubbed his hand and turned to start his journey. A journey Shinobu had no intention of sticking around for.
Shinobu was surely faster than the ornery young man. She was not particularly fond of his presence either. She decided she would go off ahead of him. If he tried to do anything funny with her belongings she would easily find them again and give them all hell. The sooner she got home, the sooner she could figure out how to revert to her true body.
“Ah. Good riddance.” She heard Daisuke say snidely as she hopped ahead and into the brush once they made it to the edge of town.
‘I could say the same about you.’ Shinobu thought to herself, ‘if anything happens to that haori especially, the problems you have now will be child’s play to what I’ll put you through.’
Though she traveled faster, leaving the innkeeper’s son behind her, Shinobu still had plenty of ground to cover. She was already tired from weeks of duty, not to mention she wasn’t used to traveling on four paws. However despite these difficulties, Shinobu managed to reach her estate’s beautiful gardens  just before dinner. Her little paws ached, but she was home.
She walked through the garden, admiring the blooms and foliage as she steadily made her way to the engawa. The weather was fair, so hopefully she’d find an open door somewhere.
Then the flowers ahead of her started to shake and she stiffened momentarily before relaxing as the voices of Kiyo, Sumi, and Naho registered in her ears.
“And then— oh! A kitty!” Kiyo interrupted herself, awestruck as she and the other two girls made their way to the end of the garden where the vegetables were grown. Sumi and Naho were quick to join in, cooing at Shinobu causing her light embarrassment.
“How did you get here, little one? Are you lost?” Naho smiled, presenting her hand for Shinobu to sniff. Obviously, Shinobu didn’t go for it.
“Mow.” Shinobu shook her head, trying to show the girls she was no ordinary cat. They didn’t seem to catch on unfortunately.
“It’s so cute! Do you think we could keep it?” Sumi asked.
“Shinobu-sama would never let us. She thinks furry animals are messy.” Naho replied dejectedly.
“You’re right.” Sumi pouted.
“Well...” Kiyo spoke up after a moment of silence. “Shinobu-sama isn’t back yet. What if we could get (Y/n)-sama to agree to let us keep it?”
“Good idea!” Sumi jumped a bit with excitement, “Even if Shinobu-sama doesn’t like the idea, she’ll accept it if (Y/n)-sama said it was okay.”
‘My my, Kiyo, Sumi. I did not think you would try using my own lover against me in such a way.’ Shinobu thought to herself, begrudgingly allowing herself to be picked up by Sumi as the other two gathered at her sides, gently stroking her fur.
“I don’t know, aren’t you two worried it might strain their relationship if they don’t make the decision together?”  Naho asked nervously, though she eagerly patted the top of Shinobu’s head.
“No way. They love each other too much to let one cat get in the way of all that.” Kiyo shook her head, “Besides, we’ll take care of it. Shinobu-sama won’t even have to see the kitten if she doesn’t want to.”
‘My, what schemers these girls are growing into.’
“Girls? Is everything going alright out there?”
Shinobu’s ears perked up and she wiggled in Sumi’s arms to peer over her shoulder, absorbing the sight of (Y/n) standing on the engawa with her hand acting as a visor to shield her eyes from the setting sun as she squinted at the garden. Shinobu thought it was a crime that she couldn’t perceive colors as she could when she was human. She was sure the light of the setting sun bathed (Y/n)’s figure in a heavenly way. Oh how she had missed her.
“(Y/n)-sama!” The three girls cheered rushing towards the young woman standing on the engawa. Shinobu winced at the jaunty gait, the pace Sumi had set was throwing her around more than she would have liked.
“Oh dear,” (Y/n) smiled warmly, turning Shinobu’s heart into mush, “that doesn’t look like a vegetable.”
“(Y/n)-sama, can we keep her? Can we keep her please?” The girls pleaded. “We promise we’ll take good care of her. It will be like she’s not even here. Just give us a chance!”
“I have no doubt you three could take good care of a cat. You’re all very responsible, but you know Shinobu wouldn’t be happy living with a sheddy cat under her roof.” (Y/n) said, her smile becoming more sympathetic as she stared down at the youngest residents of the Butterfly Estate.
“Please, (Y/n)-sama. Shinobu-sama doesn’t even have to know. It can be our secret.” Sumi whispered conspiratorially.
“I’m sorry girls, but I’m just not comfortable making such a big decision without consulting with Shinobu first.” (Y/n) shook her head.
Upon seeing the dejected looks of the three girls before her, (Y/n) sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. “You can come in and fix something for her to eat, but she can’t come inside, okay?”
“Okay...”
Shinobu would have been very pleased with (Y/n)’s decision, except she needed to be the exception to the verdict. She needed to get inside and get to her lab, not live out the rest of her days as a garden cat getting fed scraps while she watched all her loved ones mourn her sudden disappearance.
“Don’t forget to pull out some fresh veggies. Aoi and Kanao are waiting too—ah!”
Shinobu had wiggled free from Sumi’s arms and flung herself into the air, catching on the fabric of (Y/n)’s clothes and scrambling up to her chest as surprised arms moved on instinct to hold Shinobu up.
‘I could charm you as a human, I can do it in this form too, (Y/n).’
Shinobu butted her head against (Y/n)’s chin, her cheeks, wherever she could reach. She felt a rumble start to build at the back of her throat and realized she had begun to purr. (Y/n)’s scent seemed to be all encompassing, so much stronger than what Shinobu’s human nose could smell. It made her press harder, realizing just how much she had missed that scent, how she craved the familiarity.
“Oh, hello there. You sure are friendly, huh?” (Y/n) scratched behind Shinobu’s ear, Shinobu purred louder.
“Aw, she must really like you, (Y/n)-sama. You have to let her stay now!” Naho spoke, watching the cute scene with unrestrained joy.
“Naho, you know we can’t.” (Y/n) shook her head, now trying to dodge Shinobu’s bumps of affection while also trying to loosen Shinobu’s claws from her front so she could put her back down.
‘Come now, (Y/n). Don’t start playing hard to get now.’ Shinobu continued working her charm as best as she could, continuing her nudges and purrs, gently lapping (Y/n)’s knuckles with her tongue when her hands attempted to push her away.
“Affectionate little thing, aren’t you?” (Y/n)’s smile twitched, a bead of sweat roll down her cheek as she tried to pull the cat away from her body only to have her clothes pulled with her, the cat’s claws were secured and unyielding.
‘Only for you.’ Shinobu’s eyes glinted. She could see (Y/n) was wavering, if she could keep this up, she’d let her stay in no time.
(Y/n) looked down into the cat’s eyes. They felt strangely familiar. The way the cat stared back up at her made her feel small, not in a negative sense, more like they eyes reminded her of the vastness of the universe. Maybe they made her feel safe, unconditionally loved... (Y/n) shook her head, blood buzzed faintly through her cheeks and the tips of her ears. This was a cat. She really needed to pull herself together. She hoped Shinobu’s letter detailing her imminent return home was accurate.
“Mew, mow.” Shinobu mewed sweetly, the sound, paired with the sweet kitten licks penetrated deep into (Y/n)’s heart, making her sigh and slump her shoulders in defeat.
“Okay...”
“Yay!” The trio cheered, bouncing around (Y/n) as she held onto a pleased Shinobu with a guilty expression on her face.
“But!” She added quickly, “I’m not promising anything. When Shinobu comes back we’ll come to a final decision together. Don’t get your hopes up too high, alright?”
“Okay, (Y/n)-sama.” The girls were a little more subdued, but no less excited that the cat could stay with them, if just for a short time.
As soon as (Y/n) crossed the threshold into the estate, Shinobu loosened her kitty death grip and jumped out of (Y/n)’s arms to pad off to the kitchen. Though she was yelling at herself to go to the lab to try to fix herself first, hunger seemed to be driving her body in the direction of the aroma coming from the opposite side of the building.
“Look at you. You walk around as if you own the place.” (Y/n) spoke, a sound of amusement preceding her observation.
‘Because I do. Hopefully you’ll realize that soon enough.’
“What took so long, (Y/n)-sama?” Aoi asked, a small frown of concentration shaped her lips as she carefully prepared the food. Kanao turned to stare at (Y/n) and the sleek little shadow trailing behind her with a puzzled expression.
“Sorry. Um, Sumi, Naho and Kiyo had made a new friend in the garden who’ll be staying the night.”
“I see, shall I start preparing a room?” Aoi asked, not yet looking up from her cooking.
“I don’t think that will be necessary...”
“What do you mean, oh.” Aoi caught a dark movement at (Y/n)’s feet, the seeing the cat for the first time. Although she found it undoubtedly cute, her respect for Shinobu was not so easily swayed. “(Y/n)-sama, you can’t keep a cat in here!”
“I know,” (Y/n) pressed her hands together, “it’s only for a short while, I promise.”
“I can’t believe you let yourself get manipulated so easily. What would Shinobu-sama say?”
‘That (Y/n) trying to resist me would be like someone trying to stop an oncoming train with their bare hands. It’s just not plausible.’ Shinobu silently answered with a purr, sliding past (Y/n)’s ankles.
“I know, I tried, honestly! I really did.” (Y/n) swore.
“Fine. Remove it from the kitchen please at the very least. It’s unsanitary.” Aoi said, turning back to what she was doing.
“Right, sorry. The girls should be back from the garden soon. I’ll be back in a minute to help.”
(Y/n) scooped up Shinobu and took her out of the kitchen just as Sumi, Kiyo, and Naho were coming in with their basket from the garden.
“Great timing. Could you three take care of the cat while I help Kanao and Aoi finish up dinner?”
“Yeah!”
“You can count on us!”
“Here little kitty!”
Shinobu tried to latch onto (Y/n), but was quickly plucked from her arms by Kiyo. After Naho handed (Y/n) the basket, they ran off down the hall with (Y/n) calling after them.
“Be back in twenty minutes! Everything should be done by then.”
“Okay!”
***
Shinobu sat on the tatami floor, watching with amusement as the girls tried to get her to play with the crudely tied together cloth on a wooden pole. They even went as far as to demonstrate what they expected her to do with the device, pawing at it and rolling around on the floor.
“Come on, kitty. You can do it!” Sumi encouraged.
‘I love you children, but there is nothing you could say or do that would make me act so foolishly.’ Shinobu turned her nose away from the flopping cloth and made to leave the room, hoping (Y/n) and the others would have dinner ready by now.
Sumi, Kiyo, and Naho followed after her talking amongst themselves. Occasionally asking the black cat where she was going with such purpose.
When they made it to the dining area, (Y/n), Kanao and Aoi were already there. (Y/n) had only just knelt down at her spot at the table when Shinobu claimed the space in her lap, causing (Y/n) to jump in surprise at the sudden dark flash that rushed at her.
“Ah!”
“Wow, she must really, really like you, (Y/n)-sama.” Naho observed.
“Yeah, we just followed her here. It’s like she knew exactly where to go.” Sumi spoke with awe.
“I see...” (Y/n) smiled down at the black blob curled in her lap, it’s intelligent purple eyes looked back up at her. “I bet you’re hungry, hm?”
‘Yes, I haven’t eaten all day.’ Shinobu sighed to herself.
“(Y/n)-sama, we shouldn’t feed animals at the table.” Aoi pouted. “What would Shinobu-sama say?”
‘I’d say let’s make an exception just this once. Please, I’m starving.’
“Just this once, Aoi, please,” (Y/n) asked, setting up a little bowl of cat safe food before setting the bowl beside her on the floor. “More likely than not the cat will have to go when Shinobu comes back. Try not to let it bother you too much.”
Shinobu wiggled out of (Y/n)’s lap to the bowl of food next to her whilst Aoi released a resigned sigh, and waited for everyone to get situated.
“Ikatakimasu!”
“Meow.”
Everyone blinked and turned to the cat. Shinobu stared back, unblinking, waiting for someone to realize she was no ordinary cat.
Kanao tilted her head, flipped her coin, and shrugged slightly before turning back to her food. Aoi was mildly impressed but made no comment. She thought perhaps it had just been a coincidence that the feline happened to meow as they thanked each other for the work that had gone into making dinner tonight. The youngest girls made sure to voice their amazement, praising Shinobu for being such a smart kitty. (Y/n) let out a surprised giggle, calling the moment unbelievably cute before returning her attention to her food as well.
If Shinobu could adequately roll her eyes, she would. Instead she sucked it up and ate the food in the bowl (Y/n) had provided for her. She felt silly and unrefined eating in such a manner, face first in the ceramic, but the food was good and filling, making her feel much better.
After dinner was finished and everything was cleaned up, Shinobu ignored the younger girls’ pleads to come back to their rooms and trotted behind (Y/n) to their wing of the estate.
“You’re making me out to be some kind of villain, cat,” (Y/n) spoke to Shinobu as she waved sympathetically to the younger girls pouting at the opposite end of the hall, “Kiyo, Sumi, and Naho would really like to spend more time with you.”
‘As would I, but I need to be in the lab tonight if I’m ever going to figure out how to reverse this.’
As they approached Shinobu’s lab, she was pleased, but also annoyed to find that the door was already partially open. Making a mental note to find out who had been rustling around in her sanctuary, she made to enter the room only for the door to be slid shut in front of her.
“Sorry little kitty,” (Y/n) smiled down at Shinobu, “Shinobu would be less than pleased with me for not only letting a cat into the estate, but for also letting it have free reign of her lab. Can’t have you breaking any vials or toppling plants.”
“Mowww.” Shinobu moaned pitifully, pawing at the door. She looked up at (Y/n) with hope that she’d let her in. ‘You don’t understand, (Y/n). It’s me!’
“Aw, sorry buddy. That room is off limits.” (Y/n) then continued to walk around the corner.
Shinobu looked between her lab door and the corner (Y/n) disappeared behind a few times, her tail twitched in agitation.
‘Alright, no work is getting done tonight. I suppose it will feel nice to sleep in a familiar location with the warmth and comfort I’ve missed so dearly, even if she is actively blocking my progress with her good intentions.’ Shinobu quickly followed (Y/n) to their room and made to enter the space but was blocked by (Y/n)’s foot.
“No no, see? This is why you should have followed the other girls. I share this space with Shinobu, I can’t let you get fur all over the place and gods forbid anything happen to the goldfish. You’re a smart kitty, I’m sure you can figure out where to go.”
“Mowww, mew!”
“Goodnight, little kitty.” (Y/n) slid the door shut and Shinobu slumped against the floor, pathetically pawing at the edge of the door.
‘Why must you be so responsible and considerate?’ Shinobu meowed again, ‘I would kill to cuddle you right now. I would sit in a room full of writhing balls of sentient fuzz just for my welcome home kiss.’
Shinobu did not move from her spot, continuously clawing at the door, trying to hook a claw in the crack to nudge it open. Her persistence paid off and she managed to wiggle through the small opening she created and slip into the darkened room.
Shinobu was a bit embarrassed, had she tried to get into her lab as hard as she tried to get into her own bedroom, she might actually have gotten somewhere with an antidote. But now she was tired, and all she wanted to do was lay in that perfect space she saw between the curl of (Y/n)’s arm and her face.
‘It looks like I’m not the only one who misses someone.’ Shinobu simpered inwardly, noticing how (Y/n) was sleeping on the side of the futon that Shinobu usually slept in. Shinobu purred, walking across (Y/n)’s side and eliciting a sleepy laugh from the girl without waking her. She slid into the space she had staked claim of and curled up, rubbing her face against (Y/n)’s cheek. She couldn’t help but purr louder as (Y/n) unconsciously pulled Shinobu closer and buried her face in her furry side.
“Shinobu... be safe.” (Y/n) mumbled before stilling once more.
‘I’m safe, I’m right here with you. I hope you realize it soon.’
***
The next morning Shinobu woke earlier than (Y/n). She didn’t want to make (Y/n) worry about the cat somehow getting into the room so she gave her a few quick kitten licks before slipping out of the room. If she had to be a cat for an indeterminate amount of time, she didn’t want (Y/n) trying to find a better way to keep her out of their room.
She trotted around the corner to begin working her lab door open again but was quickly thwarted by Kanao who had happened to be walking by. The quiet girl had picked her up by the pits of Shinobu’s front legs and held her out in front of her with her head tilted to the side as if searching for something.
‘Yes, Kanao. You can tell can’t you? You can tell that I’m your sister and not some common stray.’
“Cute.”
‘Kanao!’
The young Tsuguko put Shinobu in a more comfortable hold and continued to walk away from the lab until she happened upon Nezuko and Tanjirou. The Kamado siblings coddled Shinobu. Nezuko was particularly entranced and hummed happily as she patted Shinobu’s soft head. The Hashira was rather tired of all the touching, but with the firm hold Kanao had on her small body, escape was not an option. At least Inosuke and Zenitsu were out on missions. She didn’t think she’d be able to handle them in this state.
Within the next hour, the rest of the butterfly girls joined in and they moved the little get together outside. Even Aoi gave a tentative scratch behind Shinobu’s ear as they all enjoyed the warmth of the day under the shade of the engawa. That is, until they heard (Y/n) speaking to someone near the estate entrance sounding very distressed. Kanao and Tanjirou went to investigate while the others stayed behind.
Shinobu had been passed off to Aoi, but she wriggled out of her arms to sprint in (Y/n)’s direction to give whoever was making her so upset a taste of her claws. She slowed to stand just behind (Y/n) when she realized that the person she was talking to was the boy from the inn with her belongings.
‘Took him long enough.’ Shinobu thought.
“What do you mean you don’t know where she went? You just saw all her belongings sitting there and thought it was perfectly normal for someone to disappear without warning?” (Y/n) spoke, yelling more out of worry than anger as she pressed the bag to her chest.
“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger okay?” Daisuke asked, a lazy smile on his face. His eyes wandered over (Y/n)’s figure in a way that made Shinobu furious. “People come and go all the time. Though I gotta say, it’s a real shame she left you hanging. I would never keep a pretty girl like you waiting.”
“Shinobu isn’t like that!” (Y/n) shot back, her eyebrows knit and jaw set. “Did you not even think about contacting the local authorities, anything?”
“Listen, sweetheart,” Daisuke took a couple steps forward, looming over (Y/n), “Unfortunately, it’s my dad who calls the shots and he sent me here to return these belongings and retrieve a lump sum of yen for the service. Now, on the subject of payment... I wouldn’t mind turning a blind eye for a night on the town. What do you say?” He reached out, presumably to tilt (Y/n)’s chin up, but his hand quickly dropped and he shouted in pain. He and (Y/n) looked down at their feet to witness Shinobu biting the ever loving shit out of Daisuke’s ankle.
Daisuke hopped around from one foot to the other, trying to dislodge the cat from his feet. It was like Shinobu was a liquid shadow of teeth and sharp little claws like knives. When Daisuke reached for her, she scrambled to the other leg to give it the same treatment.
(Y/n), now fully joined by Kanao and Tanjirou, watched in stunned silence as the small terror weaved through the young man’s legs.
“Sh... should we stop it?” Tanjirou asked hesitantly.
Kanao shrugged and (Y/n) let out an exasperated sigh.
“Little kitty, please stop!” (Y/n) asked half heartedly, it was a cat after all. It’s not like it would stop just because she— oh, it stopped.
Shinobu batted the man one last time with her claws before sitting before (Y/n). The little shimmy of her hind legs and tail were enough of a sign for (Y/n) too quickly pass the bag off to Kanao so she could catch nightmarish feline who now seemed as docile as a lamb, purring up a storm and lapping at (Y/n)’s jaw.
“What the hell?!” Daisuke hissed, applying pressure to a particularly nasty scratch on the back of his ankle.
“Sorry, I’ll have someone patch you up right away.” (Y/n) said, adjusting her hold on Shinobu so her sandpaper kisses wouldn’t rub the delicate skin of her face raw, “Tanjirou, could you find a kakushi for me? Tell them to bring water, bandages, and disinfectant. Kanao, take Shinobu’s belongings to our room, then come straight back. We need to figure out what happened and where she could be.”
“Meow.”
‘I’m here, (Y/n). Please don’t look so worried.’
“Wait a minute,” Daisuke had moved to sit fully on the ground to hold his cuts and shredded pants. He squinted up at the cat in (Y/n)’s arms, “I know that scrawny little— I thought you would have gotten eaten by a hawk by now you mangy pain in the ass!”
“You know this cat?” (Y/n) asked.
“Yeah, it’s yours, isn’t it?” Daisuke spat. “Your little lady friend left it at the inn with the rest of her shit.”
“That can’t possibly be true, Shinobu dislikes furry animals. She wouldn’t travel with a cat.” (Y/n) shook her head, not even allowing the notion Daisuke brought forward to fully process in her mind because of how ridiculous it sounded.
“My lady, you called for assistance?” The kakushi called as they made their approach, Tanjirou still following.
“Yes, please see to this man’s injuries,” (Y/n) balanced Shinobu over her shoulder so she could take out her money pouch. She counted out the yen, adding a bit extra for the physical damages and presented it to the innkeeper’s son, “After they have taken care of you, please leave the premises immediately.”
“Don’t have to ask me twice.” Daisuke growled, roughly snatching the money out of (Y/n)’s hand. Shinobu glared at him, an unhappy noise gurgled at the back of her throat that made the young man flinch and cower.
Once (Y/n) was sure the kakushi had everything under control, she headed back to the engawa with Tanjirou just as Kanao re-emerged. The other girls who had been sitting and watching from a far questioned (Y/n) with worried expressions.
“Is it true? Is Shinobu-sama missing, (Y/n)-sama?” Kiyo asked.
“Yes,” (Y/n)’s voice wavered, yet she kept a brave face, “we need to prepare a search party immediately.”
“Nezuko and I will help in any way we can. I have a good grasp on Shinobu-san’s scent. I’ll find out if Inosuke and Zenitsu are close enough to help too.” Tanjirou offered, ever helpful. Nezuko hummed in agreement with her brother.
‘What, I don’t even smell the same like this?’ Shinobu signed.
“Just leave it to us.” Kanao spoke up, she patted (Y/n)’s arm, trying to comfort the older girl.
“Just be careful.” (Y/n) replied, cradling Shinobu in one arm so she could give Kanao a hug with the other. “If you need any extra assistance, supplies... we’re just a crow away.”
“We will find her.” Kanao spoke softly but no less seriously, giving (Y/n) a slight nod of determination.
Tanjirou loaded Nezuko into her box and Kanao prepared some supplies and they headed out, leaving the rest of the girls to finish chores and tend to the infirmary. Worry over what fate had befallen Shinobu hung heavily in the air. If only they knew that she was right there at their feet.
The rest of the day was eerily quiet. (Y/n) did her best to keep everyone’s spirits up. When night fell, all the girls held in a little tighter when they came to give (Y/n) a hug good night. Even Aoi, who often wouldn’t participate in the little bedtime ritual, came looking for a bit of comfort before heading to bed.
Shinobu had tried all afternoon to give some sign that she was the silky black cat, but to no avail. At bedtime she was much more desperate to get into her lab. She tried to work the door open, but found in was much more sturdy, heavy, than the door to her bedroom.
Just as Shinobu was starting to give up, she heard muffled sniffling coming from around the corner and her heart twinged. She quickly turned the corner and began working the corner of the bedroom door, her sharp ears caught every devastating sound (Y/n) made.
“Oh Shinobu, where are you?”
‘I’m here! Please don’t cry!’
Another pull of her claw edged the door open just enough for Shinobu to slip inside. The scene before her broke her heart.
(Y/n) was curled up on Shinobu’s side of the futon, now with Shinobu’s haori draped over her as she tried to keep her tears and shuddering, hitched breathing to herself.
Shinobu wasted no time hopping into the bed. She butted her head against (Y/n)’s hands, willing her to remove them from her face. (Y/n) startled, taking in a particularly loud breath of air before sliding her hands down her face to look at her intruder. Her eyes closed momentarily when Shinobu bumped heads with her again, bopping her forehead and the bridge of her nose.
“H-how did you get in here, huh?” (Y/n) sat up, rubbing the tears from her eyes. She tried to regain even breaths but it wasn’t coming easily.
“Mrroowww.” Shinobu whined, trying to form sounds that her vocal chords could not create. She circled around the arm (Y/n) was using to prop herself up, wishing she could just hold her and tell her everything was alright.
“I just love her so much. If only I was a demon slayer too, then I could—“ (Y/n)’s back racked as more tears squeezed passed her eyelids. “I’m so weak— ah!”
Shinobu bit (Y/n)’s wrist, not hard, but with enough pressure to stop her lover from continuing her spiral. She soothed the small indents she left in (Y/n)’s skin with a few rough licks, looking up at her with pained, purple irises.
(Y/n) didn’t kick Shinobu out of the room and the Hashira did her best to soothe her. Eventually (Y/n) laid back down and fell into a restless sleep, her tear stained face shone in the moonlight that cascaded through the window. As she slept, Shinobu’s mind raced for a solution to this puzzle. She absolutely refused to allow this to carry on through another night.
Shinobu sat protectively curled around (Y/n)’s head. Her ears twitched with every little sniffle and shaky sigh that came from the unconscious girl. Shinobu scanned the room as she pressed her mind. How could she get their attention?
Her eyes wandered over to the desk near the door. (Y/n) had insisted it be put there after Shinobu had spent consecutive nights in her office or her lab writing reports or doing research. She had told Shinobu if she wanted to read and write all night, she could do it in their bedroom so (Y/n) at least had the illusion that Shinobu would come to bed when she was finished.
Ah, Shinobu had teased her about that for days afterward. It turned out to be a great idea though in Shinobu’s book. Whenever she got frustrated with her materials she would simply turn to watch the object of her affections sleep for a moment and a peaceful smile would claim her lips. Then she’d get back to her correspondences or research notes until her hands hurt and her fingers were smudged with ink. She recalled one all nighter in particular when she had flopped into bed around dawn and was awoken three hours later to (Y/n) scolding her for getting ink all over her.
Ink...
Shinobu’s eyes flickered across the desk, settling on the ink bottle tucked neatly in the corner. Yes, why hadn’t she thought of this before? Careful not to jostle (Y/n), Shinobu padded passed her little goldfish aquarium and leapt onto her desk, rustling a few papers but largely without incident.
Shinobu sighed inwardly at what she would have to do next. She walked up to the ink bottle and batted it to the floor, it’s contents spilling and staining the matted floor below.
‘I’ll need to replace this floor when I’m done here, won’t I?’
***
When (Y/n) woke up early the next morning, it was to a wet, slimy pressure on her cheek. She had initially tried to bat it away, but the force came back down on her lips and she turned away and spluttered, wiping her lips with the back of her hand.
She looked down, her mouth fell open with surprise as she processed the black, sticky smudge that stuck to her skin.
“Meow.”
(Y/n) turned back around and gasped. Initially, you wouldn’t have been able to tell anything was out of place, but on closer inspection (Y/n) saw how the black cat’s fur appeared matted and wet on its front legs and if that wasn’t enough, the little black paw prints that littered the white sheets was certainly a give away.
“Oh my... bad kitty! Very, very, very bad kitty!” (Y/n) huffed, trying to roll out of the bedding without getting too much ink on herself.
Shinobu smirked inwardly, if she could laugh she would have. Despite the situation that led up to this moment, it was amusing to hear (Y/n) try to scold her. It was not at all her forte it would seem.
“Such a bad kitty! I’m going to punish you for this... ah! How do you even punish a cat?” (Y/n) fumed, taking in the extent of the damage.
Satisfied that (Y/n) was up, Shinobu made her way back to the desk, little black paw prints followed in her wake.
“That’s quite enough! I’d like to not have to replace the whole floor if I can help it, you little...” (Y/n) followed after Shinobu and scooped her up, she happened to glance at the floor near the base of the desk and the words died on her tongue. At first, she thought it was just the scene of the crime where all went wrong, but after a second glance, she noticed swoops and slashes that looked suspiciously like hiragana characters. (Y/n)’s lips fell open as she finally took the whole scene in.
‘Demon blood cat poison. I’m Shinobu.’ Was painstakingly written on the floor.
“Shinobu...?” (Y/n) stared down at the cat in her arms with manic eyes scanning over every inch of the small cat.
Shinobu blinked slowly and nodded.
“Shinobu!” (Y/n) cried, holding the cat closer to herself, uncaring of the inky paws that pressed into her yukata. “I was so worried! I’m glad you’re alright!”
“Mow.”
“You need to get in the lab, don’t you? I’ll get you whatever you need, dear.” (Y/n) carried Shinobu to the lab and slid the door open. Closing the door behind her, she set Shinobu down on a clear table and nervously wrung her hands. “Okay, what do you need?”
Shinobu took a moment to ponder. Really it couldn’t be much different than the antidote she created for the slayers who had been turned to spiders on Natagumo Mountain. She walked to the edge of the table and pointed a paw in the direction of one of her medicine cabinets and (Y/n) opened it, pointing at every vial until Shinobu nodded at the one she wanted. After an hour more of awkward directing, they had a few new solutions to try. (Y/n) prepared the first syringe and looked at Shinobu with concern.
“Are you sure about this?” (Y/n) asked.
Shinobu held out her front paw in reply.
There was no immediate change, but after a few minutes, the small cat began to grow and bubble. The fur melted away and before long what remained on the table now was a naked young woman with severe bed head covered in sticky, partially dried ink.
Shinobu fell forward, exhausted by the change, but (Y/n) caught her and straightened her back into an upright position and hugged her tightly.
“Shinobu!” (Y/n) cheered, she couldn’t help the tears that came to her eyes and she sobbed into Shinobu’s neck.
Shinobu smiled tiredly, her voice sounded like it would when she woke up first thing in the morning as she chuckled and pulled (Y/n) closer to herself, “I’m sorry I worried you. I’m okay. Please don’t cry, you know I hate it when you do.”
“I’m trying,” (Y/n) hiccuped, “I just missed you so much!”
“I missed you too.” Shinobu said, kissing the top of (Y/n)’s head.
They stayed there in each other’s arms for a few minutes quietly swaying before (Y/n) pulled back a bit, remembering how everyone was worried sick and needed to know that Shinobu was alright.
“I’ve got to send word to Kanao and the others that you’re okay! We have to tell everyone! Oh, but you should put on some clothes first.” (Y/n) added sheepishly, seemingly only just noticing Shinobu’s current state of undress. Shinobu giggled.
“I’d prefer to wash off this ink before putting anything on. Wouldn’t want to ruin anything.”
“You certainly did enough of that.” (Y/n) laughed, recalling the mess Shinobu made of the floor and their sheets. “But the bath is much too far to try to get by undetected. We’d have much better luck running around the corner to our room.”
“Mm, I suppose you have a point.” Shinobu slid off the table and stood on slightly wobbly legs, cupping (Y/n)’s face with her stained hands. “But before we go, can I have my welcome home kiss? I’ve been dying to receive it.”
(Y/n) smiled, interlacing her hands behind Shinobu’s neck and pulled her in. The first couple seconds were great, but when the kiss got more involved, both girls broke apart with small grimaces. The taste of ink on their tongues was not at all pleasant.
(Y/n) peeked around the corner and down the hall and after a moment she nodded at Shinobu, signaling her forward. They slipped out of the lab and quickly shot into their bedroom. As Shinobu got dressed, (Y/n) prepared a crow to deliver the good news to Kanao that she and the others could return home. Then the couple left their room to visit the younger girls.
“You don’t think the girls will be too disappointed to realize they don’t have a cat anymore, do you?” Shinobu asked.
“To have you back? They’ll be ecstatic.” (Y/n) grinned, bumping sides with Shinobu.
And true to (Y/n)’s word, upon seeing Shinobu, Aoi, Sumi, Kiyo, and Naho jumped at her and smothered her with hugs and relieved tears. After they had calmed down and learned the story, the youngest three started to giggle.
“(Y/n)-sama, you have a paw print on your cheek.” Sumi pointed out, gleefully.
“And your mouth has ink smeared over it too, like Shinobu-sama.” Naho added.
“How did that happen?” Kiyo wondered.
“I’ll give you three guesses.” Aoi rolled her eyes and folded her arms over her chest, a small smile tugged at the corner of her lips as (Y/n) and Shinobu laughed.
After they caught up with the girls, (Y/n) and Shinobu veered off to the bath, washing off the ink as best they could from their bodies.
Just before nightfall, the search party returned with the added bonus of Inosuke and Zenitsu being as rambunctious as ever.
“I can’t believe you got turned into a cat! Dumb Shinobu! The Great Inosuke would never!” Inosuke cackled, abruptly stopping only when a dark aura swirled around Shinobu, a plastic smile on her lips daring Inosuke to continue.
“I’m glad you’re okay.” Kanao spoke quietly, allowing herself to relax as Shinobu pulled her in for a tender hug.
After such an emotionally exhausting day, everyone returned to their rooms prepared for a much better night’s sleep than the last.
“No paperwork tonight?” (Y/n) teased as Shinobu practically dove I to the fresh bedding with a tired moan.
“Come here so I can cuddle you properly tonight.” Shinobu said, motioning (Y/n) over.
“Gladly.”
When (Y/n) was settled in Shinobu’s arms both girls blinked at each other as the sound of purrs permeated the air. Shinobu touched her throat, feeling the flesh rumble below her fingers.
“Lingering side effect?” (Y/n) tilted her head.
“I suppose... hopefully this doesn’t persist for long.”
“I think it’s cute.” (Y/n) smiled, kissing Shinobu’s cheek.
Before long the couple fell asleep to the quiet rumblings that resonated from Shinobu’s throat, happily tangled in each other’s limbs at last.
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minninugget · a month ago
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Faery Lullaby Pt 1 ~ A New Adventure
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Summary: Katsuki Bakugou is tired of his world and goes to seek something more exciting in the human realm. Meanwhile, Eijiro Kirishima is growing weary of the pressure from his tribe to kill a faery and bring home a trophy from its carcass. What would happen if their paths happened to cross?
Warnings: nudity, mentions of hunting for sport, mentions of death and killing, probably cursing, has not been beta’d 😂 as always, if I’ve missed anything please let me know so I can update it
Word Count: 2918
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Katsuki was restless. He was tired of living the same day over and over again. His father assured him the restlessness would fade over time, but it seemed to him that it only got stronger as time went on. Maybe that’s what happened for him, but for Katsuki, it was different. His mother had only rolled her eyes and said he was being dramatic. There was plenty to do in their lands without straying into the human’s territory. Surely there was some corner of the little world they lived in that he hadn’t explored. He had only scoffed and slunk out of their den, trotting along to gardens to clear his head, maybe chase after a rabbit or something. He shook himself, letting his restlessness fall like the loose fur that fell from his plush coat, something he prided himself in.
He was quickly growing tired of the seemingly boring life he lived in the Dale. Same people, things, and places day in and day out. Sure, there was always some sort of surprise around the corner, but it was always of the same sort. There were never any true surprises, just things he maybe had been unaware of or didn’t necessarily expect. He was bored. He needed something new.
Keeping low to the ground, he carefully and slowly crept toward the outcropping that led to human territory. If anyone found out, he would be in serious trouble, but Katsuki found that he didn’t much care about that. He needed something dull in his all too colorful life. Something to give his mind and eyes a rest. According to the rest of the Faer Folk, nothing was duller than the human realm. The only thing of real interest within it was the humans themselves. Apparently they were naive, trusting creatures who would trust you if you told them to and would even give you their Name if asked. He mentaly rolled his eyes at that. Only a great fool would give a Faerie their Name. After all, Names held great power. There was many a thing one of the Fae could do with someone’s Name. Perhaps he would run into one of the humans he had heard so much about. He could only hope his Marks wouldn’t put them off.
Surprisingly enough, Katsuki found the portal to the human realm unguarded. Then again, he supposed there wasn’t much reason to guard it. There had never been a human that set foot in the Dale. Something told him that if one were ever to do so, they wouldn’t live to tell the tale. Yes, Faeries were graceful and elegant, but don’t let their looks deceive you. They were each as deadly as they were beautiful.
With one last glance around to ensure no one saw him, the little fox slunk through the portal.
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Eijiro was frustrated. He had been the only member of his tribe that had yet to kill a Faerie. Well, the only member who was of age. There were plenty of children running about, their shrieks and laughter filling the air around him as he strode towards the treeline that lie just outside of their camp. It wasn’t his fault he had yet to find a Faerie. They seemed to be coming out fewer and far between. Either that, or the tribe was succeeding in their mission to wipe them off the face of the earth.
He felt something roll in his stomach at the thought.
Having seen the trophies some of the village elders had from their kills made him wonder how a species so beautiful could be evil. Surely something made of such beauty had a purpose. Surely there had to be a reason they were here.
He shook himself. Thoughts like those would get him in trouble for sure. Eijiro rolled his shoulders to release the tension from them and continued on his trek into the forest. Hopefully he could find some game or something to track and keep his mind off of things. It shouldn’t be too hard, the forest was always full of life. Eijiro shuddered. He hated the thought of hunting anything, of killing anything. Unless he absolutely had to. Call him soft, but he didn’t see the point of killing anything just for the hell of it.  Or even just for a trophy to show off to others. It was a waste and an underappreciation for what life truly is. To him, life was full of magik, no matter what form it came in. Everything from a blade of grass to the tallest giant was teeming with magik. How could anyone want to destroy that?
As he wandered aimlessly through the trees, he took in all of the life that was around him. The trees sighed in the wind as birds fluttered among their branches. Bushes shuddered as rabbits ran through them. And a fox was slinking about, looking-
Eijiro looked at the fox again. He didn’t know what it was at first glance, but he knew there was something different about that fox. As he watched it from a distance as it walked on the nettle covered ground, it became obvious why the fox had stood out to him. Its coat wasn’t red, nor red, nor black, nor white. It was blond. He had never seen a blond fox before. He had heard of them, but they weren’t very common in this area. Or so he had thought. He very well could have been mistaken. But it wasn’t completely blond, it had tufts of green fur spiraled across its shoulders and back. A Faery Mark.
He felt his blood run cold. There was no way he could let this opportunity pass. Somehow, the elders always knew when someone had passed up on the opportunity to kill a faery, or had failed in their attempt. He didn’t know how they did it, but they did. 
Crouching low, Eijiro made his way to the base of a tree and climbed it, thanking the gods that the trees in this particular part of the forest had grown close enough together that he could follow the fox and remain safely hidden within the branches. When he found the fox again, he watched as it looked around, walking slowly and stopping every so often to sniff at something. Eijiro prayed that he was downwind from the fox. If it caught his scent, he was done for. Foxes were fast on their own, but a fox that was also one of the Faer Folk? He didn’t stand a chance. He could only pray that fate was on his side today.
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To be quite frank, Katsuki found the human realm boring thus far. There was nothing of interest here, either. Just a bunch of plants and woodland creatures. It was quite droll if he was being honest with himself. He’d already seen things that were similar enough back home in the Dale. He couldn’t understand why everyone was so worried about the human realm. Thus far, it was exactly the same as the Dale, just without the magik everywhere.
He paused to sniff at a bush that seemed interesting enough when he heard something in the trees. It wasn’t a bird or a squirrel or anything like that. No, this was much larger. But he didn’t know what it was. He sniffed at the air, trying to catch the scent of whatever it was, but came across with nothing new. Just plants, dirt, and the usual animals that would scurry away whenever he came close to them. Still, he decided to keep his guard up while he continued to explore and followed the faint trail of magik he could sense somewhere nearby.
He heard the creature move across the trees as he went, confirming his suspicions. He was being hunted. 
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Eijiro growled to himself as the fox obviously detected his presence and started to run. He gave chase, leaping from branch to branch and keeping closer to the ground so as to be able to run along the boughs of the trees and jump from tree to tree. He was barely able to keep up with the damn thing. But from what he could tell, it was headed for whatever source of magik was in the heart of the forest. The elders had forbidden everyone in the tribe from following the pull of the magik, saying any and all magik could only lead to tragedy.
He followed anyways.
He didn’t know what it was, but something other than the magik he could sense from the fox and wherever the fox was leading him told him that he should continue on the same path the fox was following.
Eventually, the blond canine stopped in front of a small opening in the side of the mountain. If you weren’t paying attention, you would miss it completely, even with the runes carved around the entrance. This was the source of the magik. Eijiro didn’t know how he knew that, but he did. 
Staying perched in his tree, Eijiro watched as the fox looked around before it started to grow. Its limbs started to get longer along with its tail. When he blinked, the fox was no longer a fox. In its place was a man. A tall man with spiky blonde hair that had matched the fur of the fox Eijiro had been tracking. He had broad shoulders, a strong back covered in swirling orange and black tattoos, and held his head high. A head that was topped with foxes ears matching his hair, and a tail that matched his hair except for the tip which was the same green that was woven throughout the foxes coat. When the man turned to look around once more, Eijiro almost fell out of the tree. He was the most beautiful creature he had ever had the privilege to lay eyes on. He had a strong jaw, high cheekbones, and a sharpness to his expression that Eijiro couldn’t quite place. He was almost sad he wasn’t close enough to be able to see the colors of his eyes. With one final look, the man entered the cove.
Eijiro had never climbed down a tree so fast in his life. When he got to the bottom most branch, he dropped down to the ground and straightened. He almost took a step forward, but something stopped him. Something in his gut told him that the cove the faery had entered was a sacred place. A place of peace. A place of harmony. A place where no ill intent was allowed and neither were any weapons. Without pause, he rid himself of any and all weapons he might have on his person and deposited them at the base of the tree, trusting the tall oak would look after his things, before he made his way to the entryway carved into the stone.
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As he stepped further and further into the cave, his ears perked up slightly, catching the sound of running water further in. He decided to investigate.
What he found almost made his jaw drop. At the end of the cave was a beautiful lake, filled by a roaring waterfall at the very back of it. There was only one tree standing beside the lake, on the left side, its roots reaching for the water. Katsuki wondered for a moment how it survived without any sunlight, let alone survived long enough to become the mighty oak it was. Every faery was taught basic herbology and knew the fundamentals of growing different plants that were needed in different spells. Every plant needs sunlight. Or at least, light of some sort. Oh. He realized with a roll of his eyes at his own slowness that the crystals provided enough light to allow something to grow. He also figured it didn’t hurt that the place was teeming with enough magik to grow an entire forest inside the cave, light or no light. 
Katsuki stopped walking just short of the edge of the lake and watched the water from the fall hit its surface. There was something entrancing about it. Then again, he had always loved the water. He decided to go for a swim, quickly stripping himself of his trousers and underclothes and leaving them on the ground before stepping into the water. It was cold, but not the way snow is. It was cold in the way that a drink from a freshwater spring soothes a throat burning from thirst. As he stepped further into the water, he heard footsteps coming closer. Just as the water reached his mid thigh, the footsteps stopped short and he turned to see who they belonged to.
It was a man. A human man, to be exact. Tall with a strong build, hair the color of poppies, and sharp eyes that didn’t seem to miss a thing. Hunter’s eyes. This man was the creature who had been following him in the forest. And yet, the magik of the cave did nothing to stop him from entering. Strange. Katsuki watched as the man took in the wonders the cave had to offer the same way he had only minutes before, and then stop and stare at him in surprise. His face turned as red as his hair before he looked away. Katsuki tilted his head to the side in confusion. Why had the human suddenly turned red? Was it something they did by way of greeting?
“Hey!” Katsuki grumbled, “Why is your face red?”
The human glanced his way and then quickly returned his gaze to the moss covered ground, “You’re naked,” he mumbled.
If he didn’t have as sharp of hearing as he did, Katsuki would have missed it, “And? What about it? Aren’t you built the same way I am?”
The human chuckled, mirth written on his face, “Yes, but- well, it’s considered impolite.”
Katsuki understood now. The human was embarrassed. How cute. “Not where I’m from. Why were you following me?”
He hesitated a moment before admitting, “I’ve never seen one of the Faer Folk before. I was curious. I’m sorry, I should have let you be, I’ll leave you alone-”
“No. Stay. I’ve never met a human before.”
Now the human tilted his head in curiosity, finally making eye contact with him and Katsuki was pleasantly surprised to find he had eyes the color of rubies in firelight, “You haven’t?”
Katsuki blinked and shook his head, “I’ve never left the Dale before today.”
The human frowned, “The Dale?”
He rolled his eyes, “Look, we both probably have lots of questions for eachother. Either we can do them in the water or out of the water. I’m already in, though, and I don’t plan on coming out any time soon.”
The human blushed again and nodded, “Right. Um, would you mind- turning around?”
Katsuki stared at him, “Why?”
“So I can get undressed.”
“I don’t mind. Do whatever, just hurry up and get in here so I can ask you my fucking questions.”
“Do faeries just walk around naked all the time or something?” the human asked.
Katsuki shrugged, “Some of us do. We’re not all that bothered by it. Why? Do humans wear clothes all the time?”
He nodded, “For the most part, yeah?”
Katsuki shuddered, “I couldn’t imagine. It must feel so restricting.”
The human pulled off his tunic and undershirt, “It’s not so bad. But it’s also all we’ve done for a really long time, I guess we wouldn’t know.”
He grunted, “Do humans name their young?”
The human nodded, “We do.”
“What’s your name?”
The human smirked as he pulled off his boots and socks and dropped his trousers and underclothes and left them piled on top of the tunic and undershirt, “You can call me Kirishima.”
Katsuki chuckled, walking backwards to go deeper into the water, “Smart human. For never meeting a faery you seem to know some about us.”
Kirishima started wading into the chilled water, looking sheepish, “Well, when you grow up the way I did, it’s impossible not to remember a thing or two. What can I call you?”
“Bakugou. Where did you grow up?”
“Not too far from where I found you.”
Katsuki frowned, ears flicking slightly, “I didn’t smell any humans.”
“The village elders use spells to keep us hidden.”
“So they’re witches?”
“Not exactly. They’re just good at their craft.”
“That sounds like witches to me.”
Kirishima shook his head, “Trust me, I wish that’s all they were.”
“What are they then?”
A guilty look crossed Kirishima’s face, “You might hate me if I tell you.”
“Why?”
“They’re faery hunters.”
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enkelimagnus · a month ago
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A Castle in the Forest
Percy x Vex’ahlia, Chapter 12, 3016 words,
A Modern AU, in which Vex is a park ranger taking over the Alabaster Sierras post, and finds much more than she bargained for.
Read on AO3
This chapter has some traumatic responses to perceived threat, please be careful.
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When Vex makes it back to the cabin, Vax is pacing around the main room. The bow’s box is open on the floor, the gorgeous weapon on display and Vex can’t help but stare at it for a second before she looks back at her brother.
She hasn’t been gone for that long, but enough to piss him off, it seems. Too bad. She can’t deal with this right now, she needs him for other issues and those need to come before whatever his problem is. She needs to be selfish, she needs him to be selfless so she can rage against others before he rages against her.
She’s still tittering on the edge of the folder in her hand. Her mind is still filled with memories of Saundor and the fire and the parties. She feels like her scars are itching. They probably aren’t.
Vax’s eyes fall on her where she’s standing in the entrance of the cabin. She feels like a doe shaking at the edge of the woods, staring at a hiker wondering whether they are a hunter. It’s her brother. Why is she so anxious suddenly?
Maybe it’s the look in his eyes. It’s the look from his first visit in Shademurk, it’s the look from the first time she was asked to be a lady, it’s the quiet fury he only ever seems to feel when it comes to her. Never for himself. Always for her. Because of her.
“Vex,” he starts but she shakes her head.
“Please,” she cuts him before he can add anything. Her voice is firmer than she thought it would be. She feels so fucking shaky.
He seems taken aback from that and the look in his eyes grows. She’s tired and furious and hurt too and she doesn’t want to deal with this. She really fucking doesn’t. And he’s going to confront her, because of course he will. He’s never let her run away from the hard things.
“Please what?” Vax asks, crossing his arms.
He’s so mad. The door is unlocked though. That’s good. She’s between him and it, and it will be okay, and… he’s not going to hurt her. Gods, Vex. What is she doing? What is she thinking? He would never. He loves her. As if that has stopped others before. She wills her mind to stop talking now.
“I’m not…” She shakes her head. “Please don’t.”
Vax shakes with annoyance. “You can’t run away from it, Vex.” He sounds tired now, more than angry. Maybe she’s not able to read him properly today. That’s bad.
“I know,” she snaps back.
She can’t run away from anything ever. No matter how far she goes, it will find her. They will find her. Syldor and Saundor.
Vax points at the bow. “Where did you get it?”
Vex sighs a little, exhales. He doesn’t seem that aggressive and her mind is playing games with her. She’s choked up and ready to run at a moment’s notice.
“You know where,” she replies.
There is no way that he missed it. It stood in the center of Saundor’s home like its heart. It stood on a pedestal, and she’d not been allowed to touch it, or try it. Now it’s hers. But she barely touches it, and hasn’t tried it. Saundor had made sure she revered it appropriately, the way she revered him.
“Fine,” Vax huffs. “Keep it to yourself.”
Vex crosses her arms too. The folder feels heavy in her hand. Lead, pulling her away from the surface. She doesn’t like when Vax is like this. But at the same time, she so rarely sees him like this. Usually, everything falls off of him like water off a duck’s back. Usually, nothing ever gets to him. She hasn’t seen him show so much… distress in a really, really long time.
“It’s just a fucking bow. Why do you care so much?” She asks defensively.
It’s hypocritical and she knows it. She’s the one who is terrified of touching it, just in case it’s a beacon that will bring Saundor back to her. She’s the one who acts as if it’s either a sacred relic or a cursed horror. She’s the one that cares too much. He’s just asking questions.
“I don’t like the idea that you have pieces of him lying around like this. I wish you would move on.”
How can she move on? How can she move on when the fire burned her skin and scarred it irreparably, when his words burned her mind and scarred it irreparably, when everything that happened during those months and years have borrowed under her skin like a small poisonous insect, ready to sting but also to lay eggs that threaten to come out and destroy her?
She walks through life on the edge of breaking, a broken mirror stitched back together by an unsure hand with ugly red tape.
“It’s just a bow,” Vex repeats. She can’t bring herself to sound mad anymore.
Vax shakes his head. “If it’s just a bow, why don’t you use it? It’s much better quality than the one you have now. Why don’t you use it?”
Vex opens her mouth and closes it again. She has a lot of answers to that question. Because it’s beautiful and rare and probably worth more money than her life is and if she uses it, she will break it. There will be scuffs and marks of use that she doesn’t want to add. Because it’s Saundor’s and she’s scared of it. Because she doesn’t deserve this. She doesn’t deserve to wield such a beautiful bow. She’s not a fey, or a ruler, or even a full-blooded elf. She’s a small mortal thing and she doesn’t deserve to wield the Wrath of the Fey Warden.
“Fuck, Vex,” Vax huffs, looking away, even turning away from her.
She’s not going to succeed in making this stop if she doesn’t talk. He’s just going to keep getting mad at her, and she can’t have that. She knows, deep down, that he’s not going to hurt her. But the last few years are keeping her in that state of fear she can’t get out of.
“It’s an Archfey’s weapon,” she starts slowly. “I’m barely even an elf.”
The look Vax sends her makes her want to puke. He looks at her like she’s a broken, pathetic little thing and she’s nauseous suddenly. She should have yelled at him, she should have insulted him. She shouldn’t have told him this.
“I don’t think it cares. It’s just a bow,” Vax answers, in a voice so soft and sweet Vex really starts considering punching him to make him go back to the anger.
The anger makes her want to run away and hide, but that soft, soft pity is even worse. It speaks of all the things she’s desperately trying not to be. Of the broken little girl she is, even if she tries to be strong.
“Everyone I have ever loved has cared.”
Vax is silent for a moment. It seems to last forever and she can’t make herself look back at him. She can’t make herself see how he’s looking at her. It’s probably going to be the soft pity again.
She doesn’t see why the bow would want her to wield it. It’s the kind of weapon imbued with enough magic that it can get picky about its wielder, the kind of weapon that chooses its archer no matter what the archer wants. It’s been the bow of Lord Saundor the Forsaken for a millennium, or more. Why would it want her?
She’s small, she’s weak, she’s a half-elf and a bastard, she’s nothing.
“That’s not true, Vex, and you know it,” Vax says after a moment. He’s firm and simmering with anger again. She both dreads and welcomes the anxiety his anger brings. At least it’s not the pity.
“I know, but it doesn’t matter,” she replies. “I know I’m out of Shademurk, but it’s like he’s hiding around every corner of Whitestone, waiting to take his revenge on me. I still smell of him, Vax. All I am is the thing he made me. I can’t escape it!”
She feels like she’s drowning. The file with the photos are still in her hand. The fiend’s words: “You smell like Fey” still resound in her head. The scars will forever be on her skin, and in her mind, and she’s afraid of her own twin so much she’s wondering how to please him to appease his anger, how to make him stop, what she can give of herself for him to stop.
“There are so many things I know,” she continues. “That I know I know. Consciously, I’m aware that he can’t find me here, that I’m safe, that you love me no matter my blood, that I’m skilled, that I’m good at my job, that this is not all my fault.” There are tears on her face and she’s hiccuping now, and she doesn’t even know when she started crying. “I know,” her voice rises in the words. “But it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change how I feel.”
Vax’ face is softer when he pulls her in his arms, holds her to him like he has so many times. He presses a kiss into her hair and when Vex inhales, he smells like home. He smells like the soap they use in Syngorn, with the pressed flowers that made her want to help with the laundry even if it was supposedly not a dignified activity for a young lady of her standing. He smells like the firewood and the furs, like hide and the dyes that make that deep dark color he prefers to wear.
“I’m scared,” Vax whispers into her hair. “I’m scared of losing you.”
Vex can’t control her sobs at that. She buries her face in his shoulder so her tears will be absorbed by his clothing. She wishes she could disappear in this moment, in his arms. She wishes the world would stop existing outside of the cabin.
“Forget about the bow. Hide it forever, I don’t care. I just want you to be okay. And I can tell you’re not. And I don’t know how to fix it.”
Vex moves back for a little, not answering anything to that. She puts the file on the table next to them and opens it. Vax moves in closer to look at the pictures and his arms tighten their grip on her a little as he sees the photos of her and Saundor.
“I can’t escape,” Vex starts again. “I thought… I thought I could erase him.”
“Where do these come from?” Vax asks, quiet anger back in his voice, but right now, it’s not directed at her.
She tells him about the meeting she just crashed, about the information they have, about the castle in the forest and Percival de Rolo. About Cassandra, and how she’s desperate to save her brother, so much so that she’ll let people walk into traps and let people die to make sure no one knows about the fiend she’s hiding.
They come back to the reports about the fire, to the pictures of her and Saundor. They’re both sitting now, Vex has Trinket on her lap, Vax has stopped holding her to him but he hasn’t stopped being by her side.
“I didn’t think there would be pictures,” Vex whispers. “I didn’t… I hoped no one in the Material Plane would ever see these memories. I thought… I thought I was safe from them. But I can’t erase this. This is evidence, and I can’t undo it.”
Vax nods quietly. “I see.”
“How can I forget, when the world won’t stop reminding me?”
She sounds so tired and small. And that’s how she feels suddenly. Like this giant mass of pain and memories is after her and all she can see is its shadow on the ground, but the shadow completely swallows her already.
Vax swallows. “Maybe you’re not supposed to forget.”
Vex huffs loudly, looking at him. “Then what?”
“I think you’re supposed to… live with it.”
“The way we’re living with what Syldor did to us?” she asks, a bit defiant.
“Better, hopefully?” Vax replies, looking up at her. He has a little wry smile on, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.
Now that she thinks about it, Vax hasn’t been this animated, with his pacing and worry and anger, in a long time. It was as if he was awake for a moment, but now he’s back to saying those things and pretending like everything is rolling off of him like it doesn’t touch him.
She reaches for him. “Are you okay?” She asks. It’s nothing more than a whisper. It feels wrong to ask these things louder.
Vax stares at the table for a long moment before he sighs deeply. “I don’t think so.”
Vex swallows. She doesn’t know how to help him. She doesn’t know who to ask. She’s pretty sure there is no one around Whitestone that can help with mental health, but maybe she should ask the priests. They betrayed her, yes. But they’re the only people she knows here.
“Have you told anyone?” She mostly means to ask if he’s told Gilmore.
Vax shakes his head tiredly. “No. I don’t think there is anyone to tell. Gilmore’s… miles away. And you have way too much on your plate already.”
He’s right. Gilmore can’t really help from Westrunn. Vex doesn’t even know how to help herself.
“You can tell me about it,” Vex points out. “Anyway. We can… You’re helping me a lot; you’re helping me carry a lot of my burden. I can help with yours.”
Vax smiles a little. It’s a bare hint of something but it feels more genuine than anything she’s seen on his face in a really long time.
“Not right now,” he mutters. “I need a little time to… put words on this whole thing.”
Vex nods in understanding. She gets that. Words are so incredibly hard to find.
“I love you,” she says softly.
Vax relaxes and reaches to pull her close. It’s awkward with Trinket in the middle and it lasts for a second but it’s a good, wonderful second.
“I love you too.”
They start moving a little, tidying around. Vex puts the bow back under the bed, and even if Vax looks like he’s about to say something, he doesn’t. He understands now. Perhaps not the entire story, but enough. Enough so he lets her do this at her pace. And she’s not ready for the bow just yet.
Now that Vax knows all about what’s going on, she can share her plans, or whatever there is that looks like a plan.
She needs to help this little gang of plotters to get rid of the fiend. She has no idea where to even start with that plan, but she knows… she knows she wants to avoid killing the host. Whoever this Percival guy is, no matter how he came across the demon in the first place, it seems he was the one responsible for her escape. It seems he was fighting for control, to let her go. She’s planning to try to honor the life debt she owes him now.
But there’s also the issue of his weapon, and what it did to her. It was unlike anything she’d ever come across. The pain was searing, the shot very clear and it can probably kill with a horrifying ease. She needs to know what it is, and how to make sure it won’t hurt anyone else.
It’s easy to disarm swords and arrows, but this thing? She doesn’t have a clue what it looks like. She just knows its noise. And the pain and destruction it caused. She was lucky to at least be able to give herself a small healing spell. She could have bled out.
If it comes to it, she’ll need to take the fiend and the host down. She can’t let whatever that weapon is exist in the world.
Vex guesses that’s somewhat part of her ranger job. All of the rangers of the TWC are responsible for a park, but if you put all of these outposts together, the TWC is responsible for the entire continent of Tal’Dorei. They’re here to keep it safe.
In the absence of the Grey Hunt, in the absence of anyone that has the authority to take care of this, it falls down on Vex. It’s too big of a responsibility, to make sure this sort of weapon doesn’t get out, to make sure this incredibly powerful fiend is taken care of, but she needs to do her job correctly.
Yesterday, her own pain and anger led her to run into the mouth of the beast unprepared. She won’t make that mistake again. Next time, she’ll come with healing potions and all her spells at the ready, with her weapons too. Next time, she’ll be ready for the monster. Next time, she won’t let it get into her head.
She texts Pike to ask when the next meeting is going to be. She has questions to ask, and she’s bringing Vax. It’s non-negotiable. They need her, and she needs Vax. She’s going to take control of this whole operation now, no matter what they tell her.
The next meeting is scheduled in three days, when the priests and Cassandra are all free.
Vax and Vex go to bed curled up in each other, as they have many nights since they were born. The fire crackles away next to them, the bear cub snoozes by the bed, and they have each other.
Strangely, Vex sleeps much easier than she has the last few nights. She’s not feeling better per se, but having talked to Vax, knowing they are both in a bad place… It makes it easier to be in this bad place.
As long as they have each other, they can get through anything. Right?
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pinkpastels113 · a month ago
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Barking Morning
Rating: G/K+
Word Count: 1,741
Pairing: Chloe Beale/Beca Mitchell
Summary: In which Chloe is livid, Beca is defensive, and a beagle is happily barking away.
B/C. One-shot. Fluff. Neighbors AU.
Excerpt:
Her fingers pull at the gate at the corner of the sidewalk, and she swings it open, striding right in, “Hey!”
A woman about her age looks up from her crouch at the inside of her sliding glass door, her hands halting in their gesture at beckoning her pet forward, and Chloe’s feet falters at the sight of startled blue eyes meeting her gaze.
The beagle that had been making its happy way back towards its owner perks up at the sound and turns its head, its tail wagging like crazy as another bark permeates the air at the sight of its distraction.
“Yeah?” Her neighbor’s voice is skeptical and wary and just at the beginnings of being defensive as her eyes lose its spark of surprise and roves over her livid figure.
Chloe’s heart pounds at the gesture and then her feet are resuming its vehement traipse forwards because as if adding insult to injury, her neighbor is attractive and if she wasn’t so freaking mad, she would’ve smiled and flirted and tried to make her acquaintance, and surely someone that attractive would’ve at least had the decency to consider the insensitivity of her actions, “Next time let your dog out after the early hours of the day, will you? Some people have to sleep and get up in the morning to go to school.”
On ao3 or ff.net or here... (cuz it’s short)
Chloe had never been so livid over something so stupid.
She is generally a relaxed and pretty laid back individual, always have been and hopefully still will be (after this one incident of course), and have always allowed things to slide off her shoulders and not be taken personally, have always smiled away an “it’s fine” and continued on her merry way.
So this proves to be a highly unusual case of her losing her mind, and combined with the fact that it had been over something so stupid, she is now positively vibrating with rage by the time she’s done trying to suppress and ignore the strong but rare emotion.
Like, who the hell allows their stupid dog outside at freaking six in the morning and then not say or do anything when he/she/it starts and then continues barking it’s freaking head off non-stop at something that’s probably completely unjustifiable and not even consider the fact that it might be a high inconvenience and annoyance to the neighbor next door?
She is a freaking med student darn it, and she has a big potentially life changing exam in just a couple hours and she has had enough with the inconsideration and the barking and the suppression of her rare lividity at the expense of herself trying to be a good and reasonable human being.
Which is saying something else, because her neighbor—whomever he or she may be—is certainly not receiving the memo or even trying to reciprocate the gesture as well.
Tightening the knot of the bathrobe at her waist and trying to not growl like the dog just outside her bedroom window, Chloe stomps to her front door and throws it open, and doesn't bother to close it as she continues on her way into her neighbor’s backyard. She knows that her hair’s mussed and her feet’s bare and she’s practically naked under her robe and that her mom would probably freak if she went to greet some stranger in her current state of undress, but she could really not care less as she storms down the walkway at the side of the house that she had recently inherited from her deceased grandparents, her feet landing on cool paved stone and then soft green grass as she reaches the half wall separating her backyard from her neighbor’s.
“Come on, buddy, time to come inside!”
Oh great, now her neighbor decides to do something, when the damage was already well and done and she was already awake and on her way to give her neighbor a piece of her mind.
Her fingers pull at the gate at the corner of the sidewalk, and she swings it open, striding right in, “Hey!”
A woman about her age looks up from her crouch at the inside of her sliding glass door, her hands halting in their gesture at beckoning her pet forward, and Chloe’s feet falters at the sight of startled blue eyes meeting her gaze.
The beagle that had been making its happy way back towards its owner perks up at the sound and turns its head, its tail wagging like crazy as another bark permeates the air at the sight of its distraction.
“Yeah?” Her neighbor’s voice is skeptical and wary and just at the beginnings of being defensive as her eyes lose its spark of surprise and roves over her livid figure.
Chloe’s heart pounds at the gesture and then her feet are resuming its vehement traipse forwards because as if adding insult to injury, her neighbor is attractive and if she wasn’t so freaking mad, she would’ve smiled and flirted and tried to make her acquaintance, and surely someone that attractive would’ve at least had the decency to consider the insensitivity of her actions, “Next time let your dog out after the early hours of the day, will you? Some people have to sleep and get up in the morning to go to school.”
An eyebrow rises into chocolate brown hair and Chloe briefly notes that her neighbor is adorably a couple inches shorter even though she is still standing behind the threshold, “I hadn’t realized that six in the morning is considered early,” she says, crossing her arms.
Her beagle bounds up to her stop in front of the frowning brunette and barks at her feet, and Chloe tries not to eye at the soft coat of its fur and marvel at the small patch of black on its otherwise white and tan body, “It’s early enough for me to get pissed off when your dog won’t stop barking at whatever it was that it had been barking at and ruin any chance for me to go back to sleep.”
“Well, I’m sorry if it’s such an inconvenience for you that this is the only time that I can let him out before I go to work, and that you hate dogs enough to storm into my backyard in your robe and yell at me for letting him have some air before locking him up for hours on end,” she replies, shifting her weight onto one foot and leaning against the side of her sliding glass door.
Chloe sputters at the assumption and audacity of the short brunette to turn this on to her, “I don’t hate dogs; I was a vet student before I dropped out in favor of medicine!”
“I can’t imagine why.” Her tone is dry and sarcastic as her gaze travels over her robe clad figure once more, and Chloe is certain that her skin had by now turned into a shade of red rivaling that of her hair, for reasons not particular to her burning antagonism.
Before she could open her mouth for her next words however, the beagle at her feet rubs its head on her calves and twirls between her legs, tongue sticking out to lick at her shins in excitement and happiness, tail wagging enough to shake its entire rear end, and Chloe is delightedly distracted. Immediately, a laugh bubbles its way out of her chest and she shuffles her feet, trying to relieve herself of the tickling sensation and momentarily losing her hold onto her irritation.
“Guetta, stop.”
At the two word request, Chloe snaps her head up from the enthusiastic beagle and raises her brows in shock, “Guetta? You named your dog after an artist?”
A flash of interest crosses her neighbor’s face before it dissipates, her expression schooling back into neutral blankness, “Yeah, so what? Is that a problem for you as well?”
The thing about being usually laid back and rarely mad enough to lose her crap in front of a complete stranger is that it only lasts for a split second, and that once it was all done and settled and dealt with, she is back to being her usual serene self, curious about this woman who works at six in the morning and who is sarcastic in the most inopportune of times and who owns an overly energetic beagle and who names it after one of her all time favorite artists in the entire world. So she now bites her lip and steps forward, her fingers fiddling with the clasps of her robe, “Are you kidding? I love David Guetta; his song Titanium is my jam. My lady jam.”
She looks stunned at the sudden change of demeanor and subject and Chloe grins as she watches her arm uncross to run through chocolate curls, steely gaze darting away, “Oh. That’s...nice.”
“Yeah.” They make eye contact yet again, this time with none of the earlier animosity and mockery between them, and Chloe finally lets herself appreciate the angle of her cheekbones, the tattoo on her shoulder, the subtle curve of her nose, the pink glossiness of her lips. Her grin widens into a full on smile when her neighbor’s blank slate of a face cracks into an expression of tentative amusement, and she takes another step forward, toes curling in the grass, about to make another comment about her precise fondness for the song when a jubilant yip rises from her feet.
She had almost forgotten about the dog, about the subject of their less than pleasant meeting and now the subject of their more than promising connection, and she amends it by getting onto her knees and rubbing its face, patting his head and scratching his ears, and she giggles as Guetta barks happily and licks her cheek.
“I’m Chloe, by the way,” she says, pushing her hair out of her face so she can properly look at her, because it'd been only about five minutes since she had known this woman and she can already tell that she is hooked.
“Beca,” the brunette offers, rolling her eyes in fake exasperation as she watches her dog lavish Chloe with attention, not even bothering with calling him off anymore because they both knew that it would be fruitless.
“Awes,” the smile on her face seemed like a permanent fixture, and her serious lack of sleep and previous apprehension about her upcoming medical exam is the last thing on her mind, “Nice to meet you, Beca, and I’m really sorry about yelling at you for waking me up.”
Beca waves away her apology and gives one of her own, “I’m the one who should be sorry about being an inconsiderate jerk who didn’t do anything when this one here,” she nodded to Guetta who blinked innocently up at them, “Won’t stop barking at the mist in the air.”
Chloe coos at the beagle now kissing her neck about being silly before turning back to the short brunette, her appreciation for the reparation mixing with a sudden hope for a chance to make up, “It’s fine, I got over it. Let’s start over?”
Because this time she’s not a sputtering, storm-up-to-her-total-stranger-of-a-neighbor-uncaringly-half-naked mess—well, the storming part at least, the half nakedness is still glaringly obvious and the uncaring is still stubbornly in place—and her neighbor’s really attractive and not a completely insensitive jerkface, and she would now like to make her acquaintance, and then possibly, optimistically, something more, and a redo of their respective first impressions are a necessity of a step for her—them—to reach that goal...
Chloe really wishes that Beca would say yes.
Beca grins and and steps away from the threshold, beckoning for her to go in, “Yeah, lets. Join me for a cup of coffee?”
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stellaricwriting · a month ago
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DBD!AU pt 1
Techno/Reader, Dead By Daylight AU
warnings for dark themes, horror, death, consensual murder??? 
lads this one is a doozy and if you are not into horror i recommend not reading it at all. i had to split it up into several parts for my own sanity 
When you appear at the survivor’s campfire, you’re understandably disoriented, the entity’s realm is the very definition of a hell scape
It quickly becomes apparent that you’re different from the other survivors, sure you’re all just people in a miserable situation, but at least they can remember their names
The only thing that comes to mind when you’re prompted to give your name is The Acolyte
Your missing memory and odd title is met with sympathy outwardly, though you wouldn’t be surprised if more than one or two of the others was suspicious of just what you needed a title for
You tend to stick by the campfire as much as possible. Other survivors will wander off into the woods, exploring and scavenging useful items, but you just don’t feel comfortable wandering off on your own yet
It takes multiple trials before you’re willing to risk it, the exhaustion of dying repeatedly making the allure of items more attractive, so you begin to explore the woods around the campfire
It’s nerve wracking at first, the lingering fear of the trials carrying over into the woods, but you slowly adjust to them. The assurances of your fellow survivors that the killers can’t hurt you outside of trials helped more than you thought it would, though you are curious how they know that for fact
The quiet comfort you’ve eased into is what alerts you there’s something… off, at first. You’re crouched down low, examining a rusting away box jammed into the bottom of a tree, when the hair on your neck stands on end, and you are suddenly, acutely aware that you’re being watched
You half expect to see The Ghost or The Shape looming from just behind a tree, but when you look up there’s nothing. It takes you a moment as you scan your surroundings, but you realize that… whatever is watching you doesn’t make you feel scared or unsafe.
It’s just. There.
It’s something you grow used it, even find comforting at times. In a way, it’s nice to know you’re not alone in the woods. Even if the other survivors feel differently about the strange presence that watches you. According to them it feels oppressive, like they’re drowning under the pressure of it. 
It’s not until you’re pulled into a match that you understand.
The pressure in the air feels suffocating, and you swear you can taste blood when you breathe.
The map is new, snow and ice crunching under your feet as you move by instinct to the nearest generator. There are no visible structures around, just endless stretches of snow and ice, an evergreen weighed down by ice scattered here or there. Without the debris the Entity scatters over every location, you can tell this would be a beautiful place.
The match goes smoothly at first, you finish your gen and move on, running into Meg and helping her finish a second gen before splitting up to try for a third. 
The roar that splits the silence of the snow makes you freeze in place, heart beating a mile a minute as you scan your surroundings, praying that it wasn’t you who was spotted. You haven’t seen the killer all match, but from the roar you can guess it’s probably the Oni, who you have a bad track record with.
You’re working on your third gen when the scream sounds, high pitched and agonized in a way you recognize. Kate’s been hooked. You wince in sympathy even as you keep working, only pausing when you’re suddenly hit with the overwhelming feeling of being watched. 
It’s not the sudden chill that comes with being stalked, the uneasy anticipation of a knife in your back that you’re used to in matches... 
It’s familiar in an odd way you can’t place, but it doesn’t feel dangerous enough to keep you from finishing the gen.
The moment it starts up, you bolt towards where you heard Kate scream, legs burning as you hope she’s already been helped. She hasn’t, and you help her down from the hook with apologies spilling from your lips.
She waves them off, and in a low voice tells you it’s the killer you appeared with, the one you’ve never seen. You tug her behind some debris to bandage her and you’re both rewarded with the sound of the final generator starting up.
You head for the nearest door together, Kate pulling the lever to power it while you keep an eye out. The feeling of being watched has gone away, and for some reason that makes you uneasy.
Meg appears out of the gloom as the door opens and you wave her and Kate through, murmuring that you want to keep an eye out for your fourth. There hasn’t been any telltale signs of their death, so they must be out there somewhere, and you’ve never been keen on leaving people behind.
Meg and Kate are out, and you only wait a minute or so before the roar of the killer shatters the silence again, closer this time.
Ace comes sprinting towards the door, shouting incoherently, but you’re fixated on the figure behind him.
The killer looms, and if you had to guess his height you’d put it at maybe eight feet, it’s hard to tell with the massive boar’s skull resting on his shoulders. The only thing you can see inside the skull are the glowing red of the killer’s eyes, locked with yours.
He stops, the matted fur of his cape scraping against the snow, the blood dripping off of him sizzling as it hits ice. You can’t look away. You can’t move.
Ace grabs your arm, trying to pull you through the door, pull you out, but you’re frozen.
The killer raises his arm, massive battle axe outstretched, and you find yourself moving towards him to the sounds of Ace’s confusion.
You step closer, until the blade of his axe settles into the crook of your neck, the icy metal burning against your skin as you stare up at him
The Blood God
You know who he is
Of course you do, how could you not? How could you have forgotten him?
He bends closer to you, the smell of blood becoming overwhelming, and even as you begin to press forward, his blade cutting into you skin, you hear him make a deep rumble from deep in his chest.
The last thing you hear before the blackness of the Entity’s realm takes you is his voice, low and raspy.
“My pretty sacrifice~”
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honeykkumas · a month ago
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Heaven is a place on earth with you
Tumblr media
Tenko Shimura/Fem!Reader
Chapter One of the Tenko!Au
Ratings: PG-13
Warnings: quirkless!au, tenko doesn’t become shigaraki!au, reader is quirkless, pining, yearning, shy tenko, tenko is head over heels, oblivious reader, some angst, some slight quirkism(?), Mon-chan being cute
Wordcount: 2.5k
next:
ღღღღღღ
At the sound of your laughter alone, his heart jolts, pounds like he’s been running for miles without stopping to rest, the sound is melodious, sweet, as it rings in his ears, something one of your friends had said to you, it’d made you throw your head back, giggling and slapping at her arm playfully in response, her smile mirroring yours.
A small, shy smile finds his pale features, peering over at you from the bench he’d been sitting on, eating his lunch, slowing his pace once he’d heard your voice off in the distance, coming ever closer. He could probably tell your laugh from miles away, he thinks, if only from the warmth that blooms in his chest at the sound of it. 
You’d always been nice to him from the very first time you’d met, despite his shyness, awkwardness, how he’d stuttered when his ruby eyes had met yours, dazzled instantly by their vibrant color, the warmth and friendliness that lay inside them. 
When you’d smiled at him, said hello in that sweet voice, he knew he was a goner, felt his cheeks heat up, hoping to whatever merciful god up above might be listening that his wavy black hair was long enough to cover the red tingeing his cheeks from your gaze.
It’d just been passing by in the hallways, barely even a minute in its entirety, but it felt like a lifetime, simultaneously too slow, and too quick, and it made him ache inside when you swished by, offering a ‘see you later!’ in your haste to get wherever you had been going to.
Ever since then, he’s been mustering up the courage just to talk to you. He doesn’t even know your name, that alone leaves a sour taste in his mouth. He bets it’s something beautiful, something to match your gorgeous face, something that suits you.
Just the thought of talking to you again has his palms feeling clammy, aimlessly twirling the pencil he should be writing with in-between long, slender fingers, flicking it around as he watches you and your friends approach.
Your eyes drift over to him for a second, recognition immediately filling your gaze as your face lights up, you quickly say goodbye to your friends and rush over to him, much to his surprise as he tenses, scrambling to grab his things from the bench to move them over, to make space for you.
“I remember you! You helped me when all of my papers fell out of my bag,” You say warmly, grinning at him as your mind replays the memory. You take a seat next to him, conscious to not be too close, not wanting to invade his personal space, the metal warm under the strong heat of the sun.
You offer your name, and your hand to shake, it feels so warm in his colder, slightly larger one, he shakes it tentatively, like he’s afraid you’re going to pull away at the last second or change your mind. 
“I’m Shimura Tenko,” He says, in a wavering, small voice, face hidden behind his wavy black hair a bit like a sort of sheepdog, you think. It’s cute, very endearing. 
His hands are folded politely on his lap, he’s sitting very still, painfully still, gaze pointed a bit downwards, down at your shoes, like he’s too afraid to look at your face from this proximity. 
“Oh, I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable? I can g-”
“No! Ahem, I mean no, you’re not making me uncomfortable, probably couldn’t even if you tried...” He babbles, cutting you off, before his words trail off into nothing, embarrassed at his sudden outburst, he grips the pencil he’d been holding so tightly it nearly snaps in two. 
You give a relieved little smile and sigh, gnawing at the inside of your cheek as you swing your legs haphazardly back and forth atop the bench you share together.
He smiles in response, a bit hesitant, shy, just enjoying being next to you. Your very being exudes kindness and warmth, even in the heat of the early summer sun bearing down on the both of you. 
“So what do you like to do? Outside of schoolwork, I mean,” You query, idly playing with the fringe of your summer dress as you await his response. He seems shocked almost you’re still here, still trying to make idle conversation or any conversation at all with him. 
“I’m really into pro heroes… And video games, and uh, my dog, I guess,” He murmurs, voice still small, a bit uncertain as he responds.
“You have a dog? I love dogs! My apartment doesn’t allow them, unfortunately, though, otherwise I’d get one. What breed?” You ask excitedly, legs swinging even faster, and he swallows thickly, trying to fight off the blush he feels rising at how genuinely enthusiastic, genuine, you sound about it all. 
He gnaws at his bottom lip.
“She’s a corgi. I’ve had her ever since I was really little,” He murmurs, fondness prevalent in his tone as he thinks about her, her little dark eyes and long pink tongue lolling out, her cute stubby legs and her soft fur. He probably needs to feed her soon. 
You coo in response, gushing about how cute you think corgis are, and he offers little agreements in between your words, a smile slowly rising on his face, heartbeat still thudding heavily in his chest. 
You get a certain glitter in your eyes when you’re passionate, he learns, or speaking passionately, almost like a twinkle, it only adds to the already rampant beauty of them, of you. 
You talk a lot, but not in an annoying way, it doesn’t grate on his nerves the way other people do, even if you aren’t talking about anything “important”, it still feels important to him.
He feels like he has to hang on to every word, learn everything he can about you, what you’re passionate about, what you like, what you hate, what drives you, why you’re so kind to people, even people like him, the shy awkward ones. 
“I always wanted to own a flower shop when I was a kid. Stupid, I know, out of every career choice, including being a pro hero,” You laugh bitterly, memories of all of your teacher’s odd looks when you’d said so proudly, in Kindergarten, continuing even into First Grade. 
He shakes his head rapidly in response, wavy black hair bouncing with the motions of his head, head snapping up from where he’d been looking elsewhere previously.
“That’s not stupid at all!” He blurts, sounding a bit shocked at your words. The thought of you thinking of yourself or your dreams like that makes his heart plummet into his stomach steeply. 
Your mouth opens into a little ‘o’ shape, a bit shocked, flustered at how truthful his words had rung out. Your face feels a bit warm, shyness suddenly overtaking you, so you look away a little, peering at him from the corner of your eyes.
“Thanks,” You say, a bit uncharacteristically shy.
“What about you? What did you want to be when you grew up, Tenko?” The moment his name leaves your lips, he feels goosebumps prickle up his arms, ruby eyes wide as he mentally replays the way it’d sounded leaving your lips, how every syllable seemed to have new meaning, almost. 
“I wanted to be a pro hero, but my dreams got crushed kind of early, so I just settled on having no dream at all,” He sighs, seeing no point in being dishonest. 
It wasn’t exactly the most unique career choice, given how pros are portrayed, as saviors, legends, saints, almost. How rampant they are in modern society. 
Mulling over whether or not to ask such a personal question, you bite the bullet.
“Are you quirkless like me?” You ask boldly, making him choke a bit on air, his head whipping up in shock. Straight to the point, weren’t you? And astute. 
“Yeah. You’re quirkless too?” He says, after coughing a bit, almost a bit enthusiastically, given how rare quirklessness is nowadays. 
It seems to be getting rarer every year. You light up a bit, with familiarity, a sort of common ground even further between you two now.
“Yup. Along with about 10% of the rest of the population, and you,” You giggle, he huffs out a little cynical laugh in response, understanding greatly how it feels, how lonely it can be.
Knowing you’re a rarity in what seems to be the worst way, in a world full of people thousands of times more powerful than you could ever hope to be. 
Something about that thought is strangely comforting, even though it sounds a bit cruel. The two of you innately sort of have a fundamental understanding of each other, a connection, if only on that level, and that alone makes it...meaningful. 
Birds of a feather, or something of the sort.  
“All my friends aren’t, though,”
“I can tell, even though they deny it, that they pity me,” You laugh, a small bitter laugh, it feels a bit like acid on your tongue, like you’ve swallowed a rock, weighing heavily in the pit of your stomach and churning endlessly. 
You know they care about you, you know they love you, but sometimes you feel sort of like some kind of oddity, a pet, perhaps, a science experiment gone wrong. It’d been the same with your family, you had been the odd one out, and it’d hurt, made you ache inside with a deep melancholy, loneliness, none of them could even aspire to understand.
Tenko frowns at your words. He’s never been the social type, he prefers to stick to video games and Mon-chan, people are too inconsistent, hot one second, cold another, hard to understand, even harder to please. You’re different, he thinks.
You’re very honest, even if it is shocking initially, it’s refreshing. There’s nothing hidden beneath, no hidden intentions lying in wait, like snakes in the grass, waiting to strike him and sink your poisonous fangs in. Even if it does take him aback, he appreciates your candor. 
He understands more than most how it feels to be an outsider looking in, on multiple fronts. He’d never guess you’d be like him, considering how genuinely outgoing and happy you seem to be, how friendly and kind you are despite it all.
“I’m sorry,” He apologizes, because he doesn’t know what else to do, what else to say, he hopes you know just how much he understands the loneliness and pain that comes with your shared ‘condition’, how stifling and cruel societal standards and ideals can be to those who don’t fit in anywhere.
“Don’t be. I’m sure it must’ve been harder on you, considering you wanted to be a pro,” You mutter, pushing all the bad thoughts away in favor of enjoying your time and conversation with Tenko. He just wordlessly shrugs, black hoodie covered shoulders rising and falling in the quick motion.
You two sit in silence for a while, though it’s not awkward, nor stifling, it’s almost mutually understanding in a way, words without even needing to speak. 
He shakes some of his fluffy black hair out of his face, revealing two large, ruby colored eyes, ringed with what look to be scars. He notices you staring and gazes at you apprehensively, wondering what you could possibly be thinking now that you see his face in its entirety. 
Luckily for him, you’re too honest for your own good sometimes.
“Wow, sorry I don’t mean to come off as weird or anything, but your eyes, the color of them, they’re super pretty!” You gasp, leaning in close, to get a better look. 
He lurches backwards with an alarmed little noise, pupils wide nearly falling off the bench with how far back he’d moved, quickly steadying himself before he’d nearly fallen over and hit his head on the pavement below.
You’d gotten so close he’d been able to smell the sweet scent of your perfume, it pervaded his senses, until all he could smell was you, and the warmth of the sunshine on your pretty sundress, your eyes had looked even more breathtaking from up close.
He dared not to even think about the proximity of your lips, the shape, color of them, lest he combust into a pile of human gelatin and slip through the metal cracks onto the already boiling pavement below, into a pile of vaguely Tenko shaped goo with flushed red cheeks.
He hopes you don’t notice how red his cheeks are now.
“I’m sorry, didn’t mean to frighten you,” You apologize, with that heartrendingly sweet smile of yours that makes butterflies flutter about in his tummy, makes him smile in response, almost like he’s compelled to. 
His mind is racing, with so many thoughts, infinite almost in how widely they range, it’s embarrassing to be this flustered over something so small, but most of the things he does are embarrassing anyways, he thinks, this is nothing out of the ordinary. 
“I-it’s okay! I was just a little shocked,” He laughs, rubbing the back of his neck, his laugh a little awkward warble of a laugh, voice slightly higher than normal. 
You’re just so pretty up close is left for his most private of thoughts, he wouldn’t dare verbalize it, leaves it in the other pile of things unsaid to you, out of nervousness and fear of rejection, he’d rather just come off as awkward and a bit nerdy. 
Plus, you don’t really need to know he thinks you’re the human epitome of sunshine, anyways, right?
Or that when you parted ways that sunny afternoon he’d dreamed about you every night after, of your smile, your laugh, of your fingers linking with his as you tug him along to go somewhere, to do something, the sun illuminating you like a halo, his very own personal angel, his beacon of light in a very uncertain world.
Every time he hears you speak, it sounds musical almost, like his favorite instruments, like harps and violins, making the sweetest of melodies.
Every time he touches you, it feels like pure light energy, like he’s touching the human form of warmth itself, it reaches into his very being and touches his heart and soul, wrapping around them like a warm blanket on a cold night.
In his wildest of dreams, he imagines saying “I love you,” and hearing your soft, but certain voice saying back, “I love you too,”
Which is why his heart feels like it shatters into trillions of sharp, jagged pieces every time he wakes up with nothing but Mon-chan and another empty spot next to him on the bed, that could be full of you, your smile, your laughter. 
The weight of you next to him, his face buried into your neck and arms wound tightly around your waist, every inhale being your sweet scent, calloused hands on soft skin. 
One day, he will muster up the courage to ask you out. That is what he tells himself, in his room, out loud, for nobody but him and Mon-chan to hear. She wags her little nub of a tail at him and tilts her head inquiringly.
He only offers a smile, and a scratch on the back of one of her pointy orange ears. 
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effeminateboyninja · a month ago
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~ More than friends ~
(Kiba x reader) fluff // 2.3k words
just some quick and fun friends to lovers with my baby Kiba 🥺
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You gazed out the window of the hokage’s office at the cerulean sky peppered by fluffy clouds, daydreaming. Kakashi’s tired voice drawled on in the background but you weren’t processing it anymore. Everything past “you and Kiba will be working together...” seemed irrelevant and you were too busy imagining the time you’d get to spend with the hot-headed Inuzuka to pay attention. The two of you had been best friends for years and missions together always felt more like an exciting adventure than work.
“(Y/n), did you get all that?” Kakashi questioned, noticing your fidgety and distracted state.
“Yeah, yeah we got it,” Kiba answered for you. “Simple tracking mission. Find the base, bring back the target, call for backup if we need it. It’ll be a piece of cake don’t worry, we’ll be back in no time,” he assured him, bouncing lightly between his feet, “can we go now please?”
“Slow down,” the hokage cautioned with a roll of his eyes, “you two leave first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Okay, sounds good!” Kiba exclaimed, grabbing your hand and rushing towards the exit, “c’mon, (y/n) let’s go get ready!”
Kakashi called out something else as you let him drag you away, but you were already rushing down the hallway, his voice fading out behind you.
You spent the afternoon training with your best friend and cracking jokes. As you two sparred your eyes kept wandering over his athletic form with more than just attention to his attacks. His jacket sat discarded in the grass and the way his mesh armour undershirt clung to his muscles with perspiration was more than enough to make your pulse heighten. Thank goodness you had the strenuous activity as an excuse or else you’d worry the flush in your cheeks might give you away. He used your distracted state to get past your defense and he aimed a low kick at your ankles, sweeping your feet out from underneath you and pinning you to the ground. A low grunt escaped your lips as your back met the hard dirt.
“You’re off your game today,” he teased. “Do I look too good or something?”
Your chest heaved underneath him and you could feel the heat radiate from his body as you gazed up at his amused smirk. Your relationship was often like this, filled with enough flirty banter for those around to assume you were a couple. And to be quite honest that’s exactly what you wanted, but he’d never made a move. Besides, Kiba was naturally flirtatious, it probably didn’t mean anything you reminded yourself for the thousandth time as you reestablished your game face and retorted with an eye roll, “Oh yeah, that’s exactly it,” sarcasm dripped from your tone despite the truth in the statement. “I just can’t keep my eyes off you.”
He grinned widely and you used the momentary loosening of his grip on your wrists to push back against him and leveraged your weight to flip him underneath you, legs straddling his waist with a kunai poised skillfully under his chin.
“Who’s off their game now?” you retorted.
He just laughed and shoved you off of him jokingly. “Still you.” He scrunched up his face and stuck out his tongue as he rose to his feet before continuing, “we should probably get home, we’ve got to leave early tomorrow.”
You nodded begrudgingly and took his outstretched hand to assist you off the ground. The walk back to your place was filled with more playful conversation and teasing and by the time you made it back to your doorstep you found yourself feeling disappointed you didn’t live further away. He noticed the brief falter in your smile as he bid you goodbye and turned away and it made him want to turn back around to pull you into a warm hug and kiss you goodnight, but his feet kept moving. You were his best friend, he couldn’t risk taking a chance like that for it to not pay off.
You watched him walk away and when he had turned the corner you finally turned the knob on the door and sighed as you entered your empty apartment. You knew you needed it, but you didn’t get a lot of sleep that night, the image of your longtime friend running through your mind the entire time.
The next morning came quickly, and you rose groggily to the sound of your alarm. For a moment you dreaded facing the cool air outside your soft comforter, but then you remembered why you were getting up so early in the first place. Kiba’s face flashed through your head and you jumped out of bed to run eagerly to the bathroom and ready for your mission. In almost no time at all you were out of the house and jogging excitedly down the streets of the village, still quiet in the early dawn to meet him at the village gates.
You saw him in the distance standing beside Akamaru and a wide grin broke out across your face as you picked up your pace to get to them.
“You’re late,” he said as he crossed his arms across his chest in faux disappointment.
Your head whipped down to glance at your watch as worry filled you. 5:32am. You scoffed, “by two minutes.”
“Two minutes is two minutes of precious time wasted,” he joked and you chuckled.
“Okay, Inuzuka, sure. Let’s get going then,” and you shook your head at him before taking off towards the trees.
“Hey wait up! Me and Akamaru haven’t even had a chance to track the scent!”
You turned to shoot him a challenging glance as you continued running. “What? Can’t work on the go?”
Not one to deny a challenge, he grinned and rushed ahead of you and jumped up into the canopy, using his finely tuned nose to lead you in the direction of the enemy hideout. Just like the day before, your eyes kept wandering from the path ahead of you to the way he looked flying through the trees. His brown hair whipped around his striking face as he ran, the rising peeking through the canopy to illuminate him under your admiring gaze. Even if your relationship wasn’t the romance you wanted it to be, it felt so good to just have the privilege of being around him while you worked.
A few hours passed that way, the three of you occasionally stopping to reorient yourself in the direction of the target when you finally arrived at the enemy hideout. Crouched in the bushes observing the area with caution you realized there were about a dozen ninja milling about. You had only accounted for two or three including the target, and they all looked decidedly intimidating despite your A-rank experience. Your palms began to sweat and you wiped them off hastily on your pants, hoping the man beside you didn’t notice. It looked like this wasn’t going to be as easy as you two had expected. Akamaru whined, sensing the large amount of chakra and Kiba hushed him sympathetically before whispering to you, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to take on these guys by ourselves, we should retreat for a bit and call for backup.”
You swallowed the lump in your throat and nodded in agreement as the two of you snuck away silently, relief overtaking your fear.
When you were out of earshot Kiba turned to you with a smug expression and remarked, “I would’ve taken them you know. I just didn’t want you to get hurt.” He shrugged before crossing his arms and side-eyeing you.
“Pfft, alright. I’ll believe that when I see it,” you giggled.
He just punched you playfully and you replayed the words “I didn’t want you to get hurt” on repeat in your mind as you walked alongside one another. He pulled out a scroll to write a message requesting reinforcements and gave it to Akamaru.
“Here ya go, buddy. Bring this to Kakashi and then rush back to me okay?” then sent him off with an affectionate ruffle of his fur.
Nothing to do but wait, the two of you climbed a nearby tree and settled on a large branch about halfway up. You straddled the wood facing each other and you felt profoundly aware of the way his knees were brushed up against yours, an invisible current flowing through the point of contact. After a brief moment to compose yourself the two of you fell into comfortable conversation, teasing each other lightly and discussing whatever came to mind. You cracked a dumb joke, one you didn’t even remember the second he started howling in response. His laugh sounded like music, the way it bubbled over his lips and into your ears as he threw himself forward and held onto you so he didn’t fall out of the tree with his amusement.
His laugh died out slowly and he leaned back to look at his hands. “I’m glad we got assigned to this mission together,” he said, voice softer than usual.
“Me too.”
God, you don’t even know, you thought to yourself with a small smile, eyes tracing the sharp features of his handsome face, lingering slightly on the soft curve of his mouth. He felt the heat of your gaze on him for the hundredth time that day and felt a sudden burst of confidence. That had to mean something, right?
This is it, he encouraged himself, just go for it! And with a silent prayer he flicked his eyes up to meet yours and smirked. “I notice when you stare at my lips you know. You can just kiss me and get the awkward part out of the way.”
You jolted out of your reverie, blushing deeply and eyes growing wide as dinner plates despite your efforts to keep your cool and respond with a clever comeback. Too slow. He rolled his eyes and laughed at your abashed expression before reaching forward to take your face in his hands, “well if you’re not going to…” then he leaned in and his lips on yours set off fireworks behind your eyes. You’d been imagining this moment for months but it was even better than all of your fantasies. The way his hot breath felt in your mouth as he parted his lips to run his tongue over your bottom lip and the firmness of his strong hands on either side of your face, grounding you just enough to believe it wasn’t a daydream. The kiss was urgent, like he was worried if he didn’t give it his all it might not count. His tongue plunged and swirled in your open mouth hungrily and his fangs brushed up against your lips. Your hands found their way to his messy, brown tresses and he moaned softly against your mouth as you tugged slightly.
He pulled away, out of breath. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that,” he muttered with his forehead pressed up against yours before capturing your lips on his own again for a series of quick kisses.
You giggled softly into his lips, “it’s about time.”
“Hey now, you could’ve made a move too you know!” he protests lightheartedly. So this time you do make the move, pulling him by the collar and he melts into your kiss that’s softer and more slow than his own. You’re not sure how long you stay that way, just making out and coming up for air every so often, but by the time you’re interrupted by a gruff, “ahem” your lips are swollen.
“Are you guys gonna suck each other’s faces all day, or can we get going?” Shikamaru's irritated voice yelled from where he stood below the tree with Shino and Hinata, who were giggling quietly and the returned Akamaru barked excitedly at the sight of his master.
You jolted in your seat, startled by the sudden intrusion but Kiba doesn’t even flinch, leaving his hands where they rested on your hips as he called back down to the impatient shinobi in a playful tone, “Maybe we will! You guys have got this one right?”
The man at the base of the tree just rolled his eyes and crossed his arms as you untangled from one another’s embrace and made your way to the ground. Kiba kept his arm around your waist the whole time, the pressure of his grip sending electricity through your body.
“So are you two dating now?” Hinata asked curiously in her sweet voice, clearly in less of a rush than Shikamaru.
You hesitated, mouth gaping slightly but before you could even look to Kiba with the question in your eyes he was answering her.
“Obviously.”
A delighted smile played over your lips as you gazed up his goofy grin. How did he manage to be so cute? Hinata aww’ed and Shino congratulated you guys casually while Shikamaru sighed loudly, “Okay, okay they’re dating! Very cool, can we go do the mission now? God, you guys are such a drag.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and began walking in the direction of the hideout.
“What’s wrong Shikamaru? Jealous you didn’t get a girlfriend on this mission?” Kiba teased as you all stepped to follow behind. He removed his hand from your waist but only to use it to grab hold of your own. “It’s okay buddy, maybe next time.”
“Shut up, Kiba!” the jonin snapped from ahead.
They kept bickering as Shino rolled his eyes and you shared a giggle with Hinata at their antics.
Months later you’re sitting across the table from him at your favourite restaurant reminiscing about where it all started, and to be honest you don’t remember the details of the mission at all, but the feeling of that first kiss is still fresh as day in both your minds.
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mina-roman · a month ago
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The Lost Witch
Chapter 4: Ottery St. Catchpole // Available on AO3 (Chs 1-4 Available)
**Note: this chapter is longer than previous, I suggest reading it on AO3**
For two weeks, Ron and Hagrid lodged at the Leaky Cauldron. Ron decided to work from there as to not arouse suspicion from his family or from Harry. He’d told Harry he’d be at the Burrow and told his mum he’d be at Grimmauld Place. Though it wasn’t ideal to be spending his savings in a room, it was necessary. Anyway, Hagrid had come to an arrangement with Tom. Their rooms were small, but affordable for the length of time they were spending there, and most importantly, Hagrid had secured privacy and discretion.
During their time there, Ron discussed with Hagrid the intricacies of his plan: find a witch, most likely foreign so she wouldn’t have been known at Hogwarts. They had also considered the possibility of a squib and as a last resort, a muggle. Though Ron didn’t want to dwell on the last option, sure that would be the most complicated.
Before beginning the formal interviews, the first couple of days were spent doing research. Ron gathered old newspaper trimmings and any books he could find about You-Know-Who and the Grangers. Hagrid had provided as many details as he could possibly remember, filling in any gaps since Ron’s memory of the whole affair was very incomplete. His most pressing issue was that the history was far too recent, and perhaps far too frightening, so there was limited literature he could find. He and Hagrid had also tried bringing up the Grangers’ murder as a topic for small talk with witches and wizards who were having a drink after a day of shopping, but they quickly realised it was not a subject many wanted to address.
One small nervous wizard, with a turban wrapped around his head, had squealed when Ron had initiated that particular conversation.
“The anniversary of You-Know-Who’s death is coming up!” Ron had cheerily said as he nudged the man. However, the man’s eyes had widened with shock and he’d downed his mead promptly and, before Ron had time to realise it, he’d disapparated.
Seeing as that method would not get them far, Ron busied himself with research – which he hated. It reminded him too much of his time at Hogwarts, reading and writing essays on the ways in which Veritaserum’s effects could be avoided, or on the key traits that differentiated a Memory Charm from a False Memory Charm, or even worse on the Goblin Rebellions.
Hagrid had kept busy; meeting with Mundungus and company like him, feigning gambling games and other activities where he could talk to shady people. Hagrid was careful not to divulge their plan, but it was useful knowing how schemers and deceivers operated.
Ron and Hagrid had agreed to keep an eye out for any foreign witches, even if they weren’t the right age Hermione should be, Ron knowing a number of charms that could be used to alter their appearance as necessary. Except, it hadn’t exactly gone according to plan. Their interviews yesterday had been terrible, the last one in particular. She stood out to Ron as the worst. Ron highly suspected she was a hag – though he’d never met one before and couldn’t be sure.
“So, what makes you think you could be Hermione?” Ron had asked, trying to avoid staring at the thick hair protruding from the wart on her chin.
“I ‘ave very strrrong magical powers,” she groaned in a deep voice, masked with a thick Russian accent.
“Uh-huh… and what would you tell McGonagall when she asks about your past?”
“Grandma, it iz me, Herm-own-ninny! Ve are at long last reunited!”
“Yes, but where would you have been?” Ron pressed, losing his patience.
“Vell, I vill be bewtiful! It won’t matter!”
Ron had highly doubted that whatever charms he could cast on her or any polyjuice she’d drink would fool anyone she was anything but a hag, especially as he’d thought there was no way he’d be able to get rid of the stench that clung to her.
Hagrid had politely shook his head, but Ron hadn’t had the diplomacy to conceal his emotions as he’d slammed his head against the table.
“That’s it, it’s over!” exclaimed Hagrid after she had hastily stormed off.
“We’ll find her, Hagrid!” said Ron, with more enthusiasm than he felt. “She’s here somewhere, right under our noses!”
“What’d yeh think if we were to try with a muggle?” asked Hagrid.
“Yes, but that’ll complicate it much more! We can’t just go blurbing out all of the magical world’s secrets – that’s why a witch would be better!”
“What you wanta do?”
“I’ve been thinking, we might have a chance if we visit Ottery St. Catchpole. There’s bound to be a bit more in the house, right? I don’t think it was ever actually repaired or anything. There could be something that’ll help us there.”
“Alright, but let’s go tomorrow. I need to get the ol’ bike out.” Ron was silently pleased as he was unsure he’d be able to successfully side-along apparate with Hagrid due to his size.
“Yeah, I reckon it’s worth a shot.” Ron hoped it would pan out.
The next day, Hagrid left a little earlier to fly to Ottery St. Catchpole with his bike since it would take longer for him to arrive. Ron focused on the cobbled path just outside the village square, as he didn’t want to run into his family by apparating too close to the Burrow. He was determined to take his whole body, and as he focused on the deliberation , he disapparated. Ron felt the familiar confining sensation pass, staggering back to his two feet as the rain soaked his hair. As he pushed back the fringe from his eyes to check his surroundings, he stepped on something that gave a small crunch and let out an angry hiss. His heart gave a jolt but before he had time to register what he’d squashed, a giant orange mass of fur, claws and teeth had attached itself to his arm!
“Gerroffme!”
“Stop! You’ll hurt him!” said an unknown voice. His arms were suddenly free as his attacker was snatched from him.
“Thanks,” said Ron, relieved to come away with his arm intact, though full of angry gouges. When he looked up to meet the person that came to his rescue he found a brunette girl scowling at him.
“Hurt him?” Ron yelped in realization, “He’s the one that just jumped me!”
“You trampled all over his tail! What did you expect!” she snapped, her deep brown eyes glaring into his as she soothed the small ginger beast in her arms. Ron’s annoyance was increasing, he’d just been attacked and she was blaming him for it!
Her hair was wild in the wind, blowing all around her face. Now that she was up close, he noticed the top of her head reached just below his chin; she was smaller than she had sounded.
“Do I know you?” he asked bluntly.
“Where did you come from?” she glared at him.
“I asked you first!”
“Are you serious?” she tested him.
“Ugh, I just got here! So, I don’t know you?”
"What? No, I don’t socialise with lunatics who attack a poor cat!’
“Did you go to Hogwarts?” he pressed. She looked familiar.
“Hog- what ?” she asked, her eyebrows arching.
“You surely have heard of Hogwarts!” He was confused now. Did he apparate to the right place? He glanced around looking for a sign that he was actually in Ottery St. Catchpole and hadn’t accidentally landed in muggle village. Sure enough, he spotted the steep protruding mount of Stoatshead Hill to his left, and into the distance he could see The Silver Otter Pub’s sign swaying with the hard rain. Only wizards were able to see the village of Ottery St. Catchpole. It was one of the most well known wizarding communities in Britain, after Hogsmeade and Godric’s Hollow, with protective enchantments to prevent muggles from seeing it. So if this girl had been able to come into it, she couldn’t be a muggle. And yet, why didn’t she know of Hogwarts?
“What did you say your name is?”
“Mya,” she huffed. “Not that it’s any of your business. And you are?”
“I’m Ron. Ron Weasley,” he said. “Do you live around here?”
Mya’s cheeks went pink, which he thought was strange. She hadn’t been embarrassed when she’d been scolding him nor had she seemed remotely flustered that her cat had attacked him.
“Um, no. Well not anymore,” she bit down on her lip. “I was leaving the orphanage and er, was headed towards London when I saw this lovely boy,” she nuzzled the cat who purred against her bushy mane, “and ended up here.”
Ron was staring at her curiously, she seemed to be around his age. It was possible she had been homeschooled or gone to one of the other schools outside of Britain.
Hagrid then showed up, and Mya’s jaw dropped as she took in her stature.
“Well, hullo!” said Hagrid, “What’re yeh doin’ standin’ in the rain?”
Ron saw Mya’s mouth quickly shut and looked away, clearly trying to stop herself from staring at Hagrid.
“Oh, is Ron here interviewin’ yeh?”
“No!” he exclaimed.
He was not sure who she was, but he was not going to ask her to play the part of Hermione. He hardly spoke more than a couple of words to her and already she seemed like a nightmare! Mya also looked taken aback.
“No, I’m just on my way to London. I can’t say it was a pleasure meeting you ,” she nodded towards him, “but I need to get on my way.”
“We’re headin’ ter London, why don’t yeh join us? We’ve a couple o’ rooms booked at the Leaky Cauldron.”
Ron furiously shook his head, telling Hagrid he did not want to take her with them.
“Er, no I really should go. I’ve probably missed my coach now.” She started to turn around, heading back through the path, the wind still wailing and swirling her hair around. She put the cat down, who kept glancing back at Ron glaringly.
“She could pass for Hermione,” Hagrid nudged Ron, “We should ask her!”.
Ron did a double take and he could see it. He pulled out the photograph he’d cut out of the Daily Prophet and held it up. Mya’s hair was just as bushy as it was in the photograph, probably more as if the rain contributed to its growth and it was longer. Her eyes had been a deep chocolate brown, he’d looked into them as she’d scowled at him. The girl in the picture had been small, so Mya could certainly fit that.
“Wait!” Ron ran after her. He wanted to take her arm, but resisted as he didn’t want to scare her off.
“I think we can help you,” he said, trying to reassure her with a smile, “look.” Ron held up the Daily Prophet photograph, which was suddenly ripped out of his hands and Mya let out a small yelp.
“ The picture is moving! ”
“Oh, yeah, it does,” said Ron awkwardly, taking the picture back, “listen, let me at least buy you a drink, for er, hurting your cat.”
She pursed her lips, eyeing him and glancing at Hagrid suspiciously.
“You shouldn’t be out in this weather and it’ll start getting dark soon!”
She seemed to be contemplating her answer, squinting at the picture in Ron's hands.
“You said you were an orphan with nowhere to go, the weather is shit, and the pub’s just further down the road. If you don’t care what we have to say, we’ll part ways and no harm done.”
Ron stared at her expectantly.
“Fine, I’ll go to the pub with you.”
“You will? I mean, yes, brilliant!” Ron was excited, “the cat isn’t coming.”
“Crookshanks is most certainly coming!”
“Crookshanks? That thing has a name?”
The ginger cat kept purring at her legs.
“There, there, Ron, people can be funny abou’ their pets,” Hagrid stopped him from retorting and Ron gave Crookshanks a sour look.
“I’m Hagrid, by the way,” said Hagrid, putting out his hand and giving Mya a warm smile.
“Mya,” she took his hand and returned the smile.
“You’ve got dirt on your nose, did you know?”
“That’s probably due to your bloody cat!”
The cat aside, he was glowing with excitement. If they got her to accept, they might yet be one step closer to the five-hundred thousand galleon reward! He had to make sure they didn’t scare her off.
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deithe · a month ago
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the bones (2,847 words) (1/1)
(an introspective on jason grace. kind of?)
read here on ao3 or read below the cut!
jason falls in love with the human equivalent of a forest fire
(his mother fell in love with the sky itself)
jason grace grew up being told that his destiny was very, very simple.
his first and most important mission, handed down to him from lady juno and mother lupa, was that jason was destined to save rome. that his destiny lay with new rome and camp jupiter, a new romulus to lead the pack to greatness. he would spill so much blood in new rome’s name that the little tiber would overflow and the gods would crown him with a golden laurel made from monster ichor.
he would be everything everyone else needed.
a spear for the senate, a shield for new rome, a standard to replace the one that had been lost, a sword for the gods to wield, and another pack member for lupa. he would be the perfect soldier, a demigod fashioned by two god-mothers for the simple act of being a weapon.
his second duty was that jason was to be nothing like his father.
his father, evil, unpredictable, selfish and cruel, was to be jason’s antithesis. lady juno stressed this, as did the senate, as did his praetors (though praetor saville jason eventually killed in battle, so jason doesn’t take her words to heart anymore). jason was never, ever to be like his father. all sons of jupiter before him were either driven insane or were killed, and jason’s great destiny could not afford for him to do either of those things.
‘hubris’ lady juno once told him, while going through his latin lessons in the damp cold of the den (or wolf house, as she called it), ‘is the thing that kills sons of jupiter’.
so jason was to never be prideful, but at the same time, never to believe he was inferior. he was to be subservient but never meek, he was to be a capable fighter but never violent. he was to be kind but not a pushover. open but not flirtatious.
he was to be perfect. he could not afford anything else.
then he, in the span of a few months, murdered his prateor after finding out she was a traitor, watched his friend be assaulted by a family legacy of prophetic visions which turned him into a paranoid asshole, watched his other friend assume a leadership role, one which he tried to refuse, and fought an army, killed a titan and toppled kronos’ black throne.
he also became praetor and then was promptly kidnapped by lady juno, leaving said other friend with all the responsibility.
then any and all plans the gods had for him were ruined by a daughter of aphrodite with eyes like the earth and a son of hephaestus with a smile like war.
how could jason be the perfect soldier when his loyalties no longer lay with new rome? he loved his home, he loved his siblings-in-arms, he loved the legion-
he loved leo and piper more than the breath in his lungs, than the sky and earth and more than his destiny. he loved them enough to try and find whatever scraps of himself he had. to create something they could love too.
(heracles killed himself after accidentally killing his family. love killed him in the end)
and so, jason failed in his first mission. he could no longer put new rome above them, above camp half-blood.
jason doesn’t think becoming his father is an option for him, however. his father is prideful and arrogant and his father's likeness, he will eventually learn, belongs only to his prodigal sister.
and so, jason grace finds his last name, a family he never knew, friends he could die for and an empty cabin that seemed less lonely with leo or piper in it.
then they went on a quest, leo built a ship and they all set sail to stop gaia from rising.
then jason lost leo, then jason lost everything, then jason lost himself and then lost piper-
and, in the middle of winter, leo valdez came crashing down on a metal dragon with eyes like a nuclear explosion and teeth made for tearing meat from bone, or tearing jason’s heart from his chest.
and then jason found himself again in the space between the junction between leo valdez's fourth and fifth ribs.
leo valdez is a lot of things. he’s a son of hephaestus and a complete asshole. he’s the first child of hephaestus to be born with the ability to create and control fire in over 400 years. he’s a 5’4ft guy who wears platformed boots to make himself seem taller. he’s so powerful that he obliterated gaia. he’s a genius. he thinks spraying axe bodyspray on himself is the same as a shower. he overworks himself even when he doesn’t have to. he can fight gods and go toe-to-toe with any big three kid and hold his own. he likes to survive on a diet of mango monster energy and takis. he's obnoxious. he's thoughtful. he makes mean-spirited jokes at other people's expense. he's the best person jason's ever met
he’s-
currently late for their date.
It’s not that jason minds, per se, but leo has a nasty habit of getting so completely lost in his work that he can plan a date for the next day, and jason won’t see him for at least three days. it’s one of the downsides of being the trophy boyfriend of a genius.
jason sighs and rocks back on his heels, eyes darting up to the grey, overcast sky. he can almost hear leo in his head, asking if he could pretty please make it less goddamn cold? and his pout when jason refuses to change the weather for him.
it's not that jason won't. it's just that he can't. it makes aeolus snappy.
sometimes he still does it. manipulates the air currents just enough to warm the air around them and leo smiles, a real one, small and soft. like it wasn't meant to be seen. a secret thing, just for jason.
jason doesn't see leo smile like that often.
it's mid-february in new york and jason is kicking around central park in the grey mid-day light. it's quiet, this part of the park, with barely anyone passing jason as he leans against a tree, wet dew dripping into his unstyled hair. it's cold, but not cold enough for a freeze or snow. just the right amount of cold to turn your hands numb and purple from cold
which. if you've never seen leo 'was raised in texas and has fire powers' valdez in new york snow, jason fully believes you've never lived.
he spends another 30 minutes splitting his time from staring into space and wandering around the meeting spot they've arranged. it's peaceful here. jason can even hear some birds twittering and chirping in the trees above. the cold even stops bothering him. jason likes being alone sometimes.
it reminds him of the lupercal and lupa. long days and nights in the loneliness of the redwood forest. just him and the wolves and the stars.
though now jason has sturdy boots and a wool jacket, so not exactly the same.
he's in the middle of trying to coax a timid sparrow onto the hand, crouched on the balls of his feet when he feels a presence beside him. he goes stiff when he realises and then, like all the tension has been zapped out of him, goes relaxed again.
"that," leo whispers, also crouched beside jason, "is one fat fucking bird"
jason represses a grin, "don't say that. he's probably barely eaten all winter," and leo snorts, moving closer to jason so their shoulders brush. the bird regards leo with some caution but his black, beady eyes seem to acknowledge that jason would keep him safe.
"he looks better fed than me, jace. do you care more about this bird than your own poor boyfriend?" leo says, faux-sadness in his voice, "how cruel, jason grace. how cruel".
jason turns in time to see leo shake his head, black curls wild around his face as they shudder like leaves in the wind. his eyes are dark brown, watching the bird watch leo. a staring contest.
leo says his name like no one else does. like it's a name. like it's good. like it's something familiar and warm. he does not say 'jason' and imagine a great hero or a wolf-boy with no past. he does not say 'grace' like a joke, like grasp for power, like it carries too much weight for his tongue to bare.
he says it like it belongs to jason. he says it like it's important. not too fast, but not too slow.
leo turns his head to find jason staring at him.
"jason" he calls, lips quirking up at the edge, pulling out the 'o' like toffee, "i know i'm pretty irresistible but please, keep your longing stares for the bedroom"
jason shoves up against leo's shoulder, blush bursting across his already red-cold face.
he pushes just slightly too hard and leo goes spilling across the wet grass, yelping in surprise.
"jason!" he yells, looking up at jason half shocked and half in amusement. "what the fuck, dude!"
jason can't help himself.
leo is wearing jason's hoodie, the black one mrs.blofis picked out for jason which leo claimed as his own even before they started dating. his new denim, fur-lined jacket (from the hide of the nemean lion they killed last year) is just slightly too big and he's wearing black jeans. he looks like the college freshman he is. he looks mortal.
he looks human. he has leaves in his hair and his cheeks are flushed from the cold, teeth showing through the toothy smile he's giving and-
it's uncanny, sometimes, how well they can pass for normal. you almost can't tell leo's died and come back to life. you almost can't tell he's more powerful than any living mortal.
almost.
jason falls on top of leo in the wet grass, which causes leo to yelp, again, and knee jason in the stomach.
jason groans "dude, what the hades was that for?" and he rolls of leo, onto the wet grass beside him, arms protectively covering his bruised stomach.
"you fell directly on top of me, you big lug," and leo sits up, picking a leaf out of his curls absentmindedly, "if you haven't noticed, you're like a bean-pole with muscle mass. that shit hurts!"
jason pouts up at leo, who manages to look both unimpressed and fond. he rolls his eyes and offers his hand to jason, who accepts and leo hauls him into a sitting position in front of him
"hi, leo" jason says finally, "you're late"
"i'm not late, loser, you're just a nerd and get places earlier than normal people. its super weird," leo tells him, matter-of-factly, scooting closer to him as they sit on the ground. "you should really get it checked. might be terminal nerdiness. the glasses are just the first sign"
jason raises an eyebrow, curviving over said glasses. "i didn't know it could be terminal. oh well, guess i'll just wither away and die from being punctual. what an injust life i lead. how the sorrows never end"
leo pouts, eyes sparking with enough warmth to keep out the cold for decades to come, "don't be so down about it, I hear being a nerd has perks,"
jason moves closer, so his knees are half-pulled up to his chest and he's balancing his weight on his hand. leo fits perfectly in the bracket of his arms.
"oh? do tell?" he asks, and leo is close enough that jason can see the faint freckles on his cheeks. they're fading from how far away leo has been from the sun, but jason loves them anyways.
"yup," leo says, popping the p and smiling like the cat who got the cream. "do you know that all nerds get super hot and funny and sexy boyfriends? as compensation for being such nerds, of course"
jason pulls back his head a bit, just as leo laces his arms around his shoulders, "really?" and his voice is soft, but the smile won't disappear from his lips, "wow, didn't know that. guess I'm lucky that you're such a huge nerd or-"
leo kisses him like coming home. and in a way it is.
jason has known many homes. he's known the small apartment with his mother that smelt like spilt wine and smoke and mold. he's known the lupercal and the redwood forests around it. he's known the barracks at camp jupiter and the feeling of purpose in his chest. he's known cabin 1 and cabin 9 and bunker 9 and on the back of festus and on the argo. he's known the feeling of reyna laughing as he tells her wild stories and of the fifth cohort raising him on their shields. he's known lying in leo's private room with piper and leo, listening to low music and feeling safe with just them.
but the one person who jason has felt like home since they met was leo. his high ground through the tsunami. his parachute during a plane crash. the one point of home. like the north-star.
jason smiles into the kiss, his free hand tangling itself in the rough fabric of leo's dark blue denim jacket. it's soft and chaste, more a press of warm lips than anything. it's comforting. it's familiar. it's everything he wants.
leo pulls back a bit, just far enough to speak but still close enough that his breath brushes up against jason's cold face. "hi," he says, brushing his nose against his, "missed you, bro".
jason snorts, "i missed you too, leo, how's MIT treating you?"
"like i'm it's bitch is how it's treating me," leo tells him, slumping slightly into jason, forehead against jason's. "can we not talk about college? i think if we talk about college I might start crying and then our date will be ruined"
jason pulls back a bit to look at leo. he does look more tired than usual, eye-bags darker and lips bitten from nervousness. he frowns, using his free hand to cup his face. "are you okay? we can just go back to your dorm if you're too tired-"
"ugh, no way" leo groans, "fuck that. i just wanna spend time with you, okay? i wanna be mushy and all that gay shit. i want bad food and to kiss you again and again and do more than kissing-"
jason rolls his eyes.
"-and then go back to mrs.blofis apartment and watch really bad movies you like for some reason and then i'll go to sleep beside you and it'll be gay and shit"
"gay and shit?"
"gay and shit, you better believe it grace. but first-"
and leo untangles himself from jason and stands up, brushing the dirt from his knees leaving jason frowning on the floor.
he offers out his hand, brown skin calloused from work, long, thin fingers curled slightly as the palm faced upwards.
"c'mon, super, treat your louis lane to some greasy new york food before he decides batman has better pay"
jason is so, so lucky he got leo valdez. that the fates decides to make sure that his destiny crosses leo's. that he convinced leo valdez to let down his walls, to stay, that jason wouldn't leave him like the others, or hurt him or betray him.
that jason was in it for as long as leo wanted him to be. that jason only wanted leo to say his name, wanted to give it to leo because leo's the only one who's mouth jason trusts with it. that jason wanted to give leo his past. wanted to show him and tell him where he got each scar.
he trusts leo with this. he trusts leo's hands to not burn it all to ash. because he knows that if leo wanted to, he could. he could burn jason alive with a thought. turn him to ash and glass with a flick of his hand.
jason has fallen in love with a nuclear bomb, with a supernova of a boy and jason doesn't care if it kills him, because he has spent so long pretending to be what everyone else needed, that now he was going to be who he wanted to be. even if it got him killed. even if it burned him alive.
jason grace has fallen in love with the human version of a forest fire. he should be afraid of it, of leo. he is not. he never will be.
beryl grace fell in love with the sky itself. wanted all the stars in heaven and didn't care what happened to her. as long as she knew she had the stars attention. as long as she knew the sky loved her back.
as long as he knew the fire loved him back.
he takes his hand.
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oilux · a month ago
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In hindsight it’s probably a little weird to write a fic of a fic.  Big whoops.  Just wanted to say thank you for all the lovely sukufushi content you’re always posting.  I’m a sucker for IYS/bodyguard!au.  Just–SWeeThEArT~ ;U;  Please feel free to do what you will with this, hahaha.
It’s a private moment he’s not meant to see, but he can’t bring himself to look away.  For all the time he’s spent guarding this boy, Sukuna has never seen the kid express much of anything–he’s always:  withdrawn, reserved, defensive. 
Given the brat’s circumstances, Sukuna thinks he can understand that.  It’s hard to be vulnerable when you don’t feel safe.
Yet here Megumi is now, sat on his bed with his dog by his side, the light from his phone cast across the wall.  Megumi smiles–something gentle and small.  His shoulders shake with silent laughter.  In a quiet voice he shushes the dog, patting its head fondly.
Its bark is what had pulled Sukuna’s attention, his footsteps silent through the apartment until he stood outside a door his charge keeps begrudgingly cracked open for him.  Nothing is wrong; Megumi is safe, but still, Sukuna leans against the wall and watches–enchanted.
Megumi doesn’t notice him.  Sukuna knows the dog does, but Sukuna is more of a nuisance than threat by now, so it ignores him as is usual, content with its master’s attention on it.  It makes a snuffling sound, tail thumping loudly into pillowy bedding.  Sukuna rolls his eyes at it.  Try as it might, the damn dog isn’t cute.
Still, Megumi is fond of it.  He pets it once more before he moves his hands infront of the light–creating shadows in the shape of animals.  It’s childish, embarrassingly so for someone of Megumi’s age, but somehow charming because it’s Megumi.
It’s when an elephant becomes a rabbit becomes a dog that the dog does it again–barks.  Paws down and tail wagging in excitement.  Megumi shushes it again, but when he goes to pet it, the dog bounds across the bed, hopping around before waiting expectantly for the shadow to return.  Rather than humor the dog further, Megumi breathes a sigh and runs his hand through dark fur; clutches at it loosely before falling forward to hide his face in it.
The dog mellows down quickly, mindful of Megumi in a way Sukuna has yet to figure out.  It sniffs at the boy’s hair, nosing at Megumi’s ear until Megumi huffs another breath of laughter and pushes the dog away with a weak command to stop.
Sukuna pulls himself away from the sight then.  It’s too soft.  He feels some sort of way about it, but it’s not his job to feel anything regarding Fushiguro Megumi.  Sukuna backs away, slow and mindful of creaks in floorboards so that he doesn’t disturb whatever peace Megumi has found for the moment.  It’s not Sukuna’s place to care, but–that he can give Megumi enough assurance to have at least this…it’s a start.
-----
AHHHHH AHHHH
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soultronica · a month ago
Text
[Fanfiction] Yokai AU
Summary: Law works in a conbini in the bay of Tokyo and Kid is the yokai haunting him who keeps dropping cryptic hints
Words: ~1800
NSFW: no
Tags and Warnings: supernatural, Japan setting, light angst
External links: AO3 | Dreamwidth
It's 00:08 on Law's cheap Casio wristwatch when he sees the ghost again out of the corner of his eye. He's stocking onigiri in neat rows on refrigerated shelves, the white lights of the conbini glaring like an island of daylight in the middle of the quiet Tokyo night, and the ghost seems to be watching him like always.
A customer comes in, setting off the automatic doors, the mechanical double-chime of the entrance, and Monet's cheerful sing-song call of "Welcome in!" from her register station. All things that only register as background noise by now. A moment later the whirr of the automatic doors and the double chime sound again, and the customer dematerialises back into the black world outside. Monet checks over the fried foods in the heated display case next to her register, then heads for the back.
Law finds he's alone on the bright shop floor, so he addresses the ghost, keeping his eyes on the onigiri.
"I saw you last night," he says.
He can hear the grin in the ghost's voice as he replies. "Yeah, we talked, remember? You told me to fuck off as you usually do."
"No. After." No point in bringing up how that didn't seem to stop him haunting Law like always, and anyways, Law's curiosity is finally somewhat piqued. "I was on the roof, watching the bay. Around 5am. I saw you."
The ghost doesn't reply so Law turns to look at him. He's leaning casually against the fridges a few feet away from Law, a grin on his face. So casual and real that Law has to remind himself once more that he's the only one who can see it, as he's learned from experience.
It's why he's taken to referring to him as a ghost, though in truth - ghost, yokai, divinity, whatever, he's never been sure, and the other always evaded his questions. The death-white skin and blood-red hair certainly looked like a ghost's, though not the clothing - not a funerary kimono but gaudy pants and a fur coat. Maybe he hadn't had funeral rites.
"Did you kill him?" Law asks.
The ghost's grin widens. "What do you think?"
Law sighs and bends over to check that the colourful drinks in plastic bottles on the bottom shelves are still in FIFO order. Riddles again. "I think that I'm supposed to be the only one who can see you, but last night I was looking at the sea and you were floating over the bay and then you burst into flames. And a drunk salaryman saw you and walked towards you until he fell over the pier. He never surfaced and you laughed."
The ghost still doesn't reply so Law sighs some more and continues. "Is that what you are, a shinigami? A god of death? You're haunting me until you can take me to the afterlife?"
Law's eyes are back on the other's grinning face at this but it doesn't waver. "Nah," he says. "Good guess, though. Sharp," he adds somewhat wistfully, as he's wont to do. Then melts into the white halogen-lit air as he's also wont to do.
Law picks up the empty restock carton to fold it and heads for the back.
The ghost reappears again at 5am, at the end of Law's shift. Law's changed out of his striped uniform and into his hoodie, a smuggled can of beer taken directly from the fridges in the large pocket. He knows his end-of-shift treats disappear in the conbini's stock adjustment margin of error.
The back door opens straight into the pier. Law takes a deep breath of the sea air, the sound of the bay, the wind on his face. The intermittent vehicles on the road on the other side of the conbini - mostly taxis at this hour. The entire avenue is on a strip of reclaimed land, and though Law knows it's not possible, he swears he can feel the water that used to be there below his feet.
The ghost watches him, but Law ignores him. It's been a couple months now since Law first saw him, and though he still hasn't said anything about why he was haunting Law in particular, he's been appearing more often lately - almost every day now.
There's a shitty seafood restaurant on top of the conbini, with an outside staircase leading up to it, and on the other side, smaller service stairs. They lead to a heavy door that Law has found was always unlocked in the early morning for deliveries, and past that, another staircase to the roof.
On top of the roof, it always tastes like freedom. The world is blue at this hour, the sea stretching out of the bay and into the sky. Both gradually lightening but still night, darker than the yellow office building lights from the city across, and the haze of the neon conbini lights on the floor below. Law leans against the railing, facing the sea, and cracks open his beer can. From here he can see the exact spot near the pier where he saw the ghost burst into flames last night.
The ghost seems to notice, following his gaze, but does not care to comment. He joins Law on the railing, looking out into the bay.
"It's nice and quiet around here," he says.
"Most of the city is, except for a few districts." Law points vaguely behind him in the direction of Shinjuku and Roppongi. "They say big cities never sleep but in most places it's just the conbinis, and we had those in my hometown."
"Is that why you moved here? To Tokyo?"
"I guess. Wasn't going to stay in the mountains of Nagano forever."
"You wanted to be closer to the sea?"
Law frowns. "I guess?"
"A conbini on reclaimed land, in the bay of Tokyo. Pretty far from your dorm too. You take the train every day to do your night shifts here and drink beer while watching the sea."
Law attempts to turn the words in his mind, trying to see where the ghost is getting at. He can't.
"Yeah, I have no idea what that means. You're trying to give me an omen, is it?" He takes another sip from his beer. "I'm shit at deciphering cryptic stuff so you're just going to have to haunt me quietly."
"I'm not haunting you."
"Could've fooled me."
"I'm not even a ghost."
Law rolls his eyes. "Or a yokai, whatever." He'd never been good at the distinctions between folk creatures, his mom hadn't been one for stories.
He does notice that the other doesn't dispute this as he usually does.
"So you are a yokai?"
"My name's Kid," he says, like that's supposed to mean something to Law. It doesn't.
"Okay."
"Eustass Kid," he adds.
Law raises his beer in his direction. "Cheers, Eustass-ya."
Kid seems to like that.
He leaves Law alone for a while after that, though. Law supposes he failed whatever kind of test that was.
It's later in the year, though still on the roof, when Law sees him again. The rainy season has come and gone, and the days are almost at their longest — Law spends more and more time watching the sea so he can catch the sunrise. Some days the overcast skies go from night to grey, the new light semi-opaque behind the clouds. Today the sun rises like fire on the waves, pouring shining orange on every skyscraper window, every inch of water. It reminds Law of a yokai bursting into flames over the sea.
He turns his head and he's barely surprised to see the yokai in question standing next to him. It's a sight to be shared, after all.
"I finally looked you up, you know," Law says, swirling the end of his beer around in its can. He should probably start stealing something stronger than this weak Kirin. "There's like, lists of yokais online."
"Yeah?" the yokai - Eustass Kid, Law remembers - asks while Law fiddles with his phone to pull up the website again.
"Mmh, look — <i>ayakashi</i>," Law says, his phone screen turned to Kid. "Evil sea spirits who try to drown ships and sailors. Appear as flames sometimes."
Kid takes the phone and scrolls, humming to himself.
"... That's what you are, right?" Law asks.
"I mean yeah, I came to that conclusion too when someone called me that and I looked into it. It's not like anyone gets a manual explaining why you do the things you do."
"So like... You were just born with the compulsion to drown people? You didn't turn into this?"
Kid shrugs. "I sunk ships in my previous life too, 'cause I was a pirate and, y'know. There could only be one king. So I keep doing it."
He gives Law back his phone. Law ponders this, wondering how he wants to dig.
"Previous life?" he asks.
"I was a human once. I was reincarnated."
"Is that so," Law says doubtfully.
"Humans reincarnate," Kid insists, "You can even reincarnate into another human."
Law squints into the sunrise. "How can someone both turn into another person and stay the same person at the same time? The premise is flawed."
"Hah, you'd say that. You know because of the memories. Even if you don't retain all of them like me you still carry them deep. And they compel you back to the people and things that always mattered." Kid leans over the railing, closing his eyes. "Like the sea."
Law laughs, finally understanding his cryptic implications. "So all this time you've been trying to say that because I like watching the sea I used to be a pirate like you?"
"I'm not saying anything, I'm saying you should listen to your instinctual urges and stuff because they might mean something. You know, fuck people. Get knuckle tattoos."
"Sure, I'll do that when I wanna get fired and join the yakuza," Law rolls his eyes.
"You never thought about doing anything else with your life?"
"Fuck else you want me to do, work at another conbini? Become a delivery driver?"
Kid shrugs again. "Ever thought about, I don't know? Medicine?"
Law frowns. "What?"
"I'm just saying. Sky's the limit," Kid says, waving over the railing at the day that promises to be so bright.
"Not really, these days you have to go to university for these things. For a long time. It's not just memorizing acupuncture points or whatever they did in your time."
"Well you're smart. You could do it."
"Yeah, I don't think that's going to happen in this life," Law snorts, turning back to the bay.
The sun is fully up by now. Kid doesn't reply, and his smile is lopsided when Law turns to look at him.
"Yeah, I guess not," he says, finally.
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believerindaydreams · a month ago
Text
Girl!bonding turned into wlw Veronica/Carla, cos apparently Carla has the Cherchez La Femme perk in addition to sewing skillz. My character now Obsidian :)))
I suppose this would be crossing at dawn 2.5, come to think of it
It isn't what Veronica's holding out, a beat-up rad counter that probably predates the war; it's the way she's offering it, with a soft protective look on her face. Anytime you wander into the engine room she seems eager to see you, glad to explain. And you seem to be wandering in there quite a lot.
"How much? We have a few caps..."
"I wouldn't charge anyone with a baby on the way for one of these."
"...that's not very Brotherhood, is it?"
Veronica screws up her face in a mock frown. "I've been reprimanded for much worse."
You both laugh; but it doesn't sit well with you, being indebted. "There must be something I can do for you, though. I'm a seamstress, I make fancy hats, any clothing you want that needs repairs..."
She goes unusually silent, absently wiping condensation on a panel with the cuff of her sleeve. "Okay. There is something I would absolutely love...if it isn't too much trouble for you. A dress. Just one sleek, gorgeous number I can put on sometimes and feel good about, because these Scribe robes? Great for punching and repair work, but sometimes you just want to be...a little more feminine. You know?"
"I can have one finished before we reach DC."
The sparkle in Veronica's eyes says that this'll be more than fair recompense.
*****
First order of business, you have to size her.
Which is where any lingering impressions that this might stay strictly on the barter level go up in smoke, because she giggles when you touch her, and your hands stray into the silky dark hair she won't let the boys see, and a tape measure winds itself coyly around your legs.
"Your husband won't mind? Only- I'd like to know if I'll be doing some punching later-"
"He's got two sweethearts bedding him already, and they don't even like girls. We're fine."
She nods and kisses you tenderly, lips that don't know five o'clock shadow brushing against your own, and it's like adolescence all over again, finding shadowy corners in the vault to try things out.
It isn't. She's responsive to your condition, letting you set the pace and moves, so careful not to give you the slightest cause for worry. You've fought and fretted and hiked over half the Mojave with your precious burden, because needs must; but with her it isn't like that, there's nothing you have to prove yourself equal to. When she caresses you in gentle protectiveness, it's like nothing else can hurt you.
Not that it's really like that, only for this little while, but- today and tomorrow, that's enough.
The dress starts to take form, pieced together from the best materials you have- she'll appreciate them like few of your customers ever have. Lining from a sexy sleepwear, because there's nothing on prewar fabrics for something that's easy on the skin but won't hold dirt or smell; you use a purple one, just right for undertones and perhaps an underskirt glimpse, if the voyeur peeps hard enough.
"Do we stop here?" Veronica asks, looking at herself in a sheer slip that would be outrageous for a Gomorrah stripper.
You laugh and bop her on the nose. "Not yet."
Over that goes the dress proper, simple enough, just fine NCR linen dyed a darkened red like Pinoy wine. Not skin-tight, you want it to be breathable for her, unrestricting if she wants to throw punches in it. Equipped with two deep pockets, trimmed with braided fire gecko hide.
That's not the best part. The best part is a hide that you've been saving, bought from a hunter who confessed he had no idea what it was he downed. Something like a coyote, but shot through with scales, and the fur had a way of rippling into transparency in a dim light.
You help Veronica put up her hair, build the hat around that and use what's left for dress trimmings, collar and a bit of the back. It's reckless; there's only this one hide, any mistakes are made for good.
Snip, snip. The days fly by in work and stitches, the nights in a glory of fulfilled desires.
"I miss Christine so much," Veronica admits one night. "She does things for the Brotherhood nobody else could, I'm so proud of her...but I miss her. She'll drop out of my world for months at a time, and I don't know what happened."
"That's why I'm not letting the boys go anywhere without me. Besides- if they would hesitate to take me, I don't want them running the risk either."
Veronica sighs, rolls closer towards you; you trace little patterns across her breasts with the tips of your fingers. "Sometimes I think I should be with her all the time- but this train, it's like I was built to tend the Pacific Flyer. Nobody could look after her like I do, and there's so much that still needs doing. I want to build a mobile workshop, I want to see if I can connect the station with the NCR lines...so I have my work, and Christine has hers, and we only get the moments in between. It's all right. But I miss her."
You kiss the hardened muscle of her punching arm, and feel glad it hasn't come to that with you and Boone.
*****
"There's something you should know about the station elevator, at DC. I know it works, but- I'm not sure you can get back. Or if it'll come back down again." Veronica tosses maize into Cow's manger, which is accepted placidly and without complaint.
"It's okay. We can't...we can't return to the Mojave. Whatever's there, we have to live with."
"I know. I'm just warning you." She puts the shovel down, picks up the muck rake. "You'll never get everyone plus a Brahmin in that elevator, so who gets left behind?"
It's an impossible question. Boone, your baby's father, the mere hope of whom gave your the strength to come back from the hell called Arizona. Manny who found you when you'd given up, flamed a street of slavers into the ground to save you, carried you back to the river. Arcade, who's giving your boys something they need and never knew to ask for, who's sacrificed everything he ever had for the safety of your group.
"Cow. I can't dream of any of us losing each other."
"I'll tend her for you, then," Veronica says; but with a heartbeat too long a delay, and you know she was offering you something more. A kind way out, life in this craft of sturdy metal like the vault that nurtured you.
It's an offer you can see someone else taking. Just not you.
"She likes being scratched behind both ears at once," you explain; and the rest will have to go unsaid.
*****
Manny whistles when he sees Veronica in the new dress; Boone admires the hat, awkwardly; Arcade doesn't seem to notice at all and pesters the engineer to help him with the specs for his holorifle.
Nobody here really sees how beautiful she is in it; but never mind. She knows.
And you know.
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multiholland · a month ago
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Never knew the proper story | Prince!Harrison fic
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Summary: He thought they had a love like Verona's, too bad he never knew the proper story.
Word count - 21,515
Warnings - language, animal death, arranged marriage, fluff, angst?
━━━━━━━━━♡♥♡━━━━━━━━━
June 3rd - 10:41am
Thomas was arguably Harrisons only friend in the world. The two had more or less grown up together, side by side, but with very different upbringings. Harrison had been raised as a Prince, of course, royal treatment day in and day out, more stuff than he could ever need. But Tom, Tom was the eldest son of a stable worker. The eldest of four boys to be exact, and the man that took care of the royal family's horses.
He earned a wage enough to feed a family of three, let alone a family of six, something Harrison would be determined to change when he was old enough to do so.
The walk down to the stables was always enjoyable for young Harrison. Excitement would always flood the nine year old’s senses at the thought of being able to see Moonlight, but this time was vastly different.
The walk down to the stables was always enjoyable for young Harrison. Excitement would always flood the nine year old’s senses at the thought of being able to see Moonlight, but this time was vastly different.
The walk down to the stables was always enjoyable for young Harrison. Excitement would always flood the nine year old’s senses at the thought of being able to see Moonlight, but this time was vastly different.
As he stepped inside the dirty stable there was no usual noise of his giddy horse, or the sound of the few workers chaotically tending to the stallions.
“Mr Holland?” the young boy called. His eyes were roaming the insides of the stable, looking for the main man that cared for the horses. Instead he spotted a boy that wasn’t much smaller and didn’t look any younger than him.
“Hello,” he greeted. “Are you okay?”
Harrison nodded, not quite sure how to approach the boy. The Prince didn’t really know much about children his age, having grown up without any friends that weren’t guards meant to babysit him, so he didn’t have very many social skills in a situation so informal.
“I came to see my horse, Mr Holland told me he wasn’t feeling well.” His voice was quiet to the point where the other boy had to pretty much strain his ears to hear what he said.
“Ah, Prince Harrison,” the man said, placing his hands on his son's shoulders. Tom’s eyes almost bulged out of his head at the realisation that the Prince was standing right in front of him. “I see you’ve met my son, Thomas.”
Tom awkwardly waved, looking between his dad and the visibly uncomfortable boy.
“I-I came to see Moon,” he said, looking at the man with teary, puppy dog eyes. At his young age, Harrison didn’t really understand the concept of his horse being sick, he thought it meant his precious pet was going to die, and he didn’t want that at all, he’d do anything in his power to prevent it from happening.
“Tom here's been taking good care of him today,” he explained, leading the two boys over to the horse. “He’s doing okay, sir.”
Harrison looked up at the older man with hopeful puppy dog eyes, praying that he was telling the truth. He sat on the floor next to the horse, placing a gentle hand on his body to stroke his fur.
Moonlight was a beautiful stallion. Pearly white fur and light coloured mane decorating the large body of the gentle horse. Harrison and even Tom’s father were certain they’d never met a more gentle animal.
The boy he’d learned to be Thomas sat across from him, sitting criss-cross with a tight lipped smile in the lingering awkward silence.
Mr Holland left the two alone when he was sure they’d be able to start their own conversation to keep them amused, sensing Harrison also wanted to spend some time with his horse.
After a while of silence he spoke up, catching Tom’s attention from where he was sitting on the hay.
“We didn’t formally introduce ourselves,” Harrison said. Tom’s eyebrows furrowed, his lack of education meaning that he didn’t actually understand what the Prince had just said to him. He looked at him as though he was speaking another language and Harrison blushed slightly, thinking he’d done something to embarrass himself. He brushed it off though, holding his hand out to the brunette with a comforting smile.
“I’m Harrison.”
With the simple action Tom understood, slipping his hand into the blondes.
“I’m Tom.”
That was over a decade ago now, the two boys now nineteen, and from that day on the two would cause complete havoc anywhere they went. Tom was forever in debt to Harrison’s family, his close friendship with their son being one of the main reasons his family was still alive, even though Harrison would often tell him it was nothing but common decency.
Harrison was currently helping tutor Tom’s youngest brother. In his defense, Tom had tried, but his minor experience in education was simply not enough to assist. Harrison’s high level, expensive, Prince worthy education however, was more than enough to help his brother learn how to read higher level books.
“Can you read that one for m-“ He was interrupted by the sudden movement from Tom, the two males' heads turning in his direction like he’d gone mad.
Tom jumped up from the bed as soon as he saw the Queen entering the room, not wanting to seem disrespectful to the woman who could have him imprisoned or even killed in a heartbeat, even though Harrison would never allow it.
The other male took his time getting to his feet, not seeking the urgency to please his mother as much as his best friend. Tom tried to signal for his brother to show some manners, but Harrison urged him to continue with his reading.
“Your majesty.” Harrison rolled his eyes, slapping Tom’s shoulder as a sign to get up from his bow. He’d assumed the boy had known him long enough to not have to greet his mother with a bow and such a formal greeting every time he saw her.
“Oh, Thomas, Patrick, hello,” she greeted, flashing them a nervous smile. Tom glanced between his best friend and his best friend’s mother, sensing some kind of underlying tension that he definitely didn’t want to watch unfold.
“There’s a uh- a horse I need to attend to, in the stables,” he lied, a painfully fake smile on his face, one that no one was believing. “Yeah, a horse.”
Paddy furrowed his eyebrows, scolding Tom when he practically dragged him out of his seat. “Come on, Paddy.”
The young boy just had enough time to grab his book, waving goodbye to Harrison as he was quickly ushered out of the room.
Tom didn’t even say goodbye before he left, quickly rushing out of the Prince’s chambers to the stables where he’d said he’d be, he could at least keep up with that part of his lie.
Harrison let out a deep sigh, taking a seat on the edge of his four-poster bed ready for whatever painful conversation was about to happen.
There was an uncomfortable silence for a little while as his mother thought about what she was going to tell her son, sending him a pitying glance that turned into a stern look.
“Now I already know that you aren’t going to be happy about this,” she began. Harrison quietly scoffed, busying himself by playing with the cuffs of his shirt. He tuned out the sound of his mother’s voice, something anyone else in the entire Kingdom wouldn’t even dream of doing for the sake of keeping their heads- well that might be slightly dramatic, but Harrison was already pissed off.
There were four words that caught his attention and would’ve knocked him off of his feet if he were standing. “You’re getting married.”
“What?”
»»——⍟——««
Tom didn’t really have anything to do in the stables, and everyone in the Prince’s room had already known that, so he just had to busy himself with anything while Paddy sat down to continue his reading. Tom spent a little bit of time with Harrison’s horse, talking to him about nonsense. He more or less expected to be alone in the stables, other than the ten year old of course, of who wasn’t paying attention, but normally it was just Tom and the horses, sometimes Harrison too.
So he most definitely wasn’t expecting an audience to his conversation with a horse...
He was too caught up to notice the pretty lady standing by the door, quietly giggling at how he probably seemed insane. She chose to speak up eventually though, feeling like she’d already intruded enough.
“Hello?” Tom’s head perked up at the sound of the feminine voice. He stepped out from behind the stallion, noticing a lady that didn’t look like she belonged in a stable at all.
“Can i help you?” he asked kindly, running his hand through the loose curls on his head, brushing them out of his eyes. His eyes roamed her face like he was in some sort of trance, his heart beginning to race.
She flashed him a nervous smile that had butterflies erupting in Tom’s stomach.
“I’m Delilah, I just wanted to come and see the horses, I was informed they’re lovely.”
His eyes widened slightly at the mention of her name, but he nodded in his trance like state, making the lady giggle. He was unable to pinpoint where he’d heard that name before.
“Are you alright?” she asked, snapping Tom out of it. He nodded his head, a pink blush creeping its way onto his cheeks.
“Sorry, I feel like I’ve heard that name somewhere,” he explained, running a hand through his hair once again. She flashed him a grin, one that showed off her pearly whites and convinced Tom he could fall in love right there.
“Well, I suppose I should have greeted myself properly.” She took a deep breath, putting on some kind of façade that she was used to wearing in the company of others, to mask her disappointment.
It hit Tom like a horse and cart, the male having a quick moment of realisation.
“Princess Delilah?” he muttered, staring at her wide eyed. She nodded her head sadly, sending him a tight lipped smile.
“That would be me, yes.” His eyebrows drew together in confusion, the pieces not really adding up. Why would a Princess from another Kingdom come here unannounced?
“If you don’t mind me asking, why are you here?” He tried to sound as kind as possible, the man was genuinely curious. “I-In the kingdom i mean.” 
He noticed her face drop slightly, but she quickly covered it up with another one of her bright smiles.
“I’m afraid I’m not allowed to discuss that.” Tom respected her words, understanding that she could probably get into trouble if he was to pry it out of her. He would still probably ask Harrison anyway, seeing as that’s most likely what his mother wanted to discuss.
The topic was quickly changed so that the atmosphere wouldn’t be so awkward, the young boy in the corner of the room catching Delilah’s eye, thankfully giving her something else to talk about.
“And who’s this?” she asked politely. Paddy didn’t look up from his book, making Tom silently curse him out in his head.
“This is my brother, Paddy.” At the mention of his name he looked up, sending a confused smile to the two adults. Her eyes caught the cover of the book in his hands, peaking her interest.
“What are you reading?” she asked. Tom’s heart fluttered slightly, making a mental note that the Princess was good with kids. She obviously lived up to the sweetheart title the population of her Kingdom had so kindly graced her with, one that was famous enough that it carried through to other places.
“Romeo and Juliet.” 
He could see her face light up with recognition, a sparkle coming to her eye as she looked at the well looked after copy of the book.
“That’s one of my favourites, I like that it’s different.” 
Tom felt slightly silly that he didn’t know what they were talking about. He felt as though the ten year old was managing to bond with the Princess better than he was.
He nervously stuttered out. “Why is it different?” 
He only felt brainless when they both stared at him. Part of him felt like he was being judged for not understanding the simple things behind the story that he hadn’t- no, couldn’t even read.
“It shows that not all love stories end happily,” Paddy explained, looking up at the wiser woman for confirmation. She giggled quietly, nodding her head at the boy.
Delilah let out a sigh, flashing Tom another smile that could convince him to do just about anything she asked him to.
“I should get going, I have to get ready for later,” she mumbled. “It was nice meeting you Tom.”
Like the kind gentleman he was, he bowed to the Lady, earning a playful eye roll from the Princess.
“The honour was mine,” Tom flirted, sending her a teasing smirk.
Paddy faked a cough, drawing their attention away from each other’s eyes and back to the real world. “It was nice to meet you.”
The Princess shook the child’s hand, nodding her head in agreeance. “Tell me how you like the book once you’re finished.” 
Without another word she was gone, her beautiful pale blue dress flowing behind her in the faint summer breeze. Tom watched her go, mesmerized by the simple way she moved.
“You’re in love, aren’t you?” His words broke Tom out of his daze. Paddy may only be young, but he wasn’t silly. He could still clearly see the blush that had been coating Tom’s cheeks while he had spoken with the lovely Princess.
“Even if I was, it doesn’t matter,” he simply stated, not confirming nor denying Paddy’s statement.
“Why not?”
“She’s obviously here for a reason, and I’m not going to be the reason a royal deal is ruined,” he explained simply. “Harrison would kill me.” 
Before anymore could be spoken on the matter, Harrison barged through the door with an angry scowl on his face, muttering some nonsense under his breath that either boys were able to decipher.
Tom called Harrison’s name, telling him to calm down and try to stop his racing thoughts before he spoke. He watched his friend take a deep breath, composing himself.
“You will never believe what my mother’s just told me.” Tom hummed for him to continue, telling Paddy to go and sit outside the stable, somewhere he wouldn’t hear their private conversation. The young boy huffed, standing up from the hay. He headed to sit on a patch of dry grass against the stone wall opposite the wooden barn, sending daggers at his oldest brother.
“They want me to marry the Princess of-“ That was all Tom heard. His heart sank into a pit in his stomach, any happy emotions about their earlier interactions were gone. “I can’t believe it.”
“Why’s that?” he asked, trying to act like he didn’t absolutely despise the idea just as much as his best friend did.
“I don’t want to marry some stranger, Tom.” He rolled his eyes at the prince, stroking his hand down the centre of the horses’ nose. Honestly, he did feel bad that his friend didn’t have a say in who he got to marry, but at the end of the day he was still marrying a princess, and that’s more than Tom could ever do, especially Delilah.
“She’s very beautiful,” he said, trying to at the least make things sound better for his friend. Harrison shot him a look of confusion.
“How do you know?” he asked. 
Tom let out a sigh. “She came down to the stables just before you got here, said she wanted to look at the horses,” he shrugged. Harrison stared at him like he’d gone insane. “What?”
“You can’t be serious,” he stated, finding it hard to believe that the ‘proper lady’ that had been described to him could ever find herself willingly in a stable. Her mother was adamant she would never step foot in such a place, another thing that made him so hesitant, horses were a big part of his life.
“Why would I lie?” Tom challenged, holding his best friend’s stare. Harrison eventually gave in, letting out a groan as he ran his fingers through his hair for the hundredth time.
“She’s nice, she was good with Paddy, so she’s good with kids,” Tom said. “That’s a good thing.” 
His eyes widened, throwing his arms in the air.
“How is that a good thing?” he asked. Tom rolled his eyes, flicking his pointer finger against the back of Harrison’s head, receiving him a glare.
“In a marriage, people normally have children-“
“Fuck,” Harrison cursed. “I didn’t even think of that, do you think they’ll want us to have kids?”
Harrison’s brain felt like it was going to explode, all of this information at once becoming overwhelming for the young man.
“Probably, if you’re going to rule one day they’ll want you to have heirs, Harrison.” 
He placed his hand on the blonde's shoulder in an attempt to comfort him while he was clearly in distress.
Tom didn’t know if he’d ever heard his best friend sound so helpless. Normally, he always knew how to approach any situation head on. “What am I going to do?”
»»——⍟——««
June 3rd, 7:00pm
The Prince had been on edge since the conversation with his mother this morning. She’d found him wandering the castle later in the day and informed him of a spontaneous ball they were throwing in honour of their guests, one that she had forgotten to tell him about.
Harrison had rolled his eyes, leaving her without another word to go and find the stable boy so he could guilt trip him into coming with him.
Now a few hours later and here they were, standing above the crowd of the overcrowded ballroom, chatter and music making it hard to think, let alone have a proper conversation.
Tom had had to slow Harrison’s alcohol intake down, the male already having tried to take up to three glasses from passing by servers.
“You need to calm down,” Tom instructed, wanting to keep his friend sober so he didn’t say or do anything he didn’t mean in the moment and embarrass himself
The older male decided on the perfect distraction when he saw his younger brothers approaching. 
The ball was open to those of the Kingdom who could afford to dress up, and luckily for Tom, Harrison would provide him with anything he needed if he wanted his family here. 
In the end only Harry and Sam had decided to come, but that still meant the lads parents were getting a well deserved break from all their responsibilities, seeing as Paddy was capable of keeping to himself for a few hours.
“Your highness,” Sam teased, over exaggerating a bow to the Prince. He rolled his eyes, lightly swatting the back of the brunette’s head, flashing him an innocent smile.
“What have you been doing?” Tom asked.
“We’ve been trying to find some lovely ladies to dance with,” the younger twin explained.
The Prince rolled his eyes, scanning the dance floor for any potential guests for his friend’s brothers, they were only sixteen, so it was a difficult task when you didn’t have many options.
“Well, take your pick, and I’d even encourage you to go for those two over there.” Of course Harrison was pointing to two of the women his mother had named as other potential brides for him if he ruined the deal with the Princess’ family. He knew if Harry and Sam were to pursue them, his mother would most likely flip, and oh how he enjoyed when that happened.
“Aren’t they-“ Tom began. He cut his friend off with a look, chuckling and shaking his head.
“Let them have their fun Thomas,” he said, a devious smirk plastered on his face. He turned to the twins, noticing how the two were already planning what they would say to the fancy women. “Cause as much inconvenience to my mother as you’d like.” 
The pair scattered off into the crowd, Tom not hesitating to hit the Prince’s bicep for encouraging their mischief.
“You’re going to get them in trouble.”
“They’re smart, they’ll be perfectly fine,” he defended.
The two men continued to wait for any sign of the Princess. With most women he could tell, as awful as it sounded, but some didn’t look cut out to be a princess. 
That’s why he was certain he’d spotted her when she showed up at the top of the steps. Her hair was shining, loosely flowing down her back as her hazel eyes came in to focus with the flickering candle light of the large room. Her hands carefully dropped the golden fabric of her gown when she’d come to a stand still, allowing Harrison to admire her, completely, from afar. Beauty.
“Is that her?” he asked. Tom wasn’t given the chance to answer before Harrison was jumping in again. “She’s bea-“
“Not here yet,” Tom interrupted, looking at his best friend in confusion. Harrison turned to him with a furrowed brow, cocking his head.
He pointed to the top of the stairs where she was standing nervously, fiddling with the hems of her sleeves while she scanned the sea of smartly dressed individuals below. “Then who is she?”
Tom followed his stare to see her standing there. He was also slightly taken off guard when he saw her face, his jaw going slack. Harrison slapped his arm as a way of warning, silently having claimed the mystery girl as his, already, even if she wasn’t the Princess he was meant to be falling head over heels for.
“Let’s find out,” Tom smirked, starting to swiftly walk towards her. Harrison tried to call him back, cursing under his breath at the confidence his friend held.
“Tom, don’t you dare,” he warned. He simply received a swift middle finger from the male. Harrison let out a snort, covering it up with a cough when some of the guards gave him a stern look. This was surprisingly a common occurrence with the two males when it came to the guards of the castle. 
Even growing up around the Prince, Tom wasn’t as polished as Harrison was, and had actually rubbed off on him some. Of course the Queen wasn’t happy about that, scolding her son every time he did something she wouldn’t class as ‘royal behaviour’, whatever that meant. So the authority in the castle often had times over the years where they had to scold the Prince for acting like a commoner, a word Harrison despised for the sake of his best friend.
Although he still had to remember that this was a proper, formal meeting with the royal family of the neighbouring country, so he had to be on his best behaviour. That meant also controlling his manic best friend who was now introducing himself to the beautiful Lady.
“I’m Thomas, but you can call me Tom, darling,” he lifted her hand to his lips, pressing a gentle kiss on the back of it. She felt her body growing hot, trying to act calm as if this very attractive man wasn’t greeting her out of nowhere. She wasn’t sure she’d ever been given as much male attention, especially not from someone so kind.
“I’m Annette,” she giggled. “But you can call me Annie.” 
“It’s very nice to meet you Annie.” He had that silly smile on his face that Harrison recognised every time Tom tried to flirt. He met the two at the top of the stairs, standing beside them awkwardly rocking on his feet.
She turned to look at Harrison and he was almost breathless seeing her up close. Annie felt herself grow nervous at the blank look on his face. If she thought Tom was attractive, she had another thing coming when she saw Harrison. Her heart fluttered when she saw the blonde staring at her.
“I-I’m Harrison,” he stuttered, acting as though he wasn’t blushing profusely like a school boy with a crush. Her eyes stayed locked on his, the corners of her lips twisting up into a soft smile.
“P-Prince Harrison?” she asked, her voice shaky slightly. He nodded, his heart sinking slightly. “It’s very nice to meet you, your highness.” 
Tom tried to hold back his laughter as she curtsied for the male, knowing that Harrison hated that kind of treatment from people.
“I’m Annette,” she stated. She almost melted when Harrison took her hand like Tom had. The Prince bowed to kiss her hand, flashing her a smile that made her knees weak.
“I don’t believe I’ve seen you before,” he said. “I apologise if this is rude but, who exactly are you, love?”
Annie’s heart melted at the sweet nickname falling from his lips, her hands beginning to sweat slightly as she grew more and more nervous at the idea of messing this interaction up. She was convinced she might die if she embarrassed herself right now.
“I’m just a handmaiden to the Princess, nothing of importance,” she explained, a light chuckle following her words. Harrison shrugged, a flirty smile much like Toms decorating his lips. Now Harrison still didn’t have very many informal social skills, but he had turned out to be a natural flirt, even when he didn’t really notice he was doing it.
“I would say that’s an important job, having to get the Princess ready and proper,” he said, turning to the male. “Wouldn’t you Tom?”
He rolled his eyes. “I would, and speaking of, where is the Princess?”
Annie was glad that they’d changed the subject of the conversation so quickly, just so Harrison couldn’t see the silly grin that had blossomed on her face when he complimented her job.
“She’s a little bit nervous, but she should be here by now.” Harrison noted that she was angsty,  unable to stand still as she waited to see if the Princess was even going to show.
It was an awkward few minutes of Harrison checking his shiny, golden pocket-watch every few minutes, mentally noting that the Princess was late. While Tom attempted to keep conversation with their new friend.
“Ah, Annie.” The girl turned her head, a thankful smile planting itself on her face. “I’m sorry for keeping you,” she apologised, greeting the other royal with a polite curtsy. 
“No worries, Princess.”
She smiled at the group of three, noticing the familiar face along with her best friends, her eyes lingered on the dressed up stable boy for a second. She giggled, pointing a finger at him accusingly.
“From the stable,” she said. Tom nodded, shooting his friend an ‘I told you so’ look. “Nice to see you again.” 
Harrison rolled his eyes, punching his friend's shoulder to tell him to shut up.
Upon his first meeting with Delilah, he didn’t feel the connection like he did with Annie, and the Princess was certain she hadn’t felt the connection like she’d felt with Tom. In Fact it seemed like Thomas had more of a connection with Delilah than the blonde did. Harrison was pretty sure he’d managed to screw up this deal before it had even properly begun.
“Shall we?” she asked, nodding in the direction of the ballroom floor, dragging him out of his thoughts before he could get too lost. He sent one last lingering look at Annie, one she returned, before he nodded his head at Delilah.
He took her hand with a forced smile, sending a glance in the direction of Tom and Annie, who had now been left alone, as he descended the steps with the Princess. He noticed how Tom seemed to be making her laugh, jealousy tugging at his heart at how his best friend could easily make her swoon.
But still he noticed the way she beamed at him, her smile causing butterflies in Harrison’s stomach. He watched as Tom politely offered her his hand, and he could almost hear his friend’s voice in his head asking her to dance.
“Harrison,” Delilah hissed, snapping his attention back to the girl on his arm. He hummed, silently asking what was wrong. “Take my waist.” 
As he looked around he noticed numerous pairs of eyes on them as they waited for the soon to be engaged couple to begin to dance together. He grew nervous at all the sets of eyes, feeling as though they were silently judging him. 
“Sorry,” he mumbled, clearing his throat. He slipped his hands around her waist, holding her close to him, while hers circled around his neck.
Harrison felt bad that his eyes were practically glued to the way Annie flowed so gracefully across the floor in Tom’s arms, rather than on the girl he should be focusing on.
She raised her hand to his jaw, gently turning his chin so the striking blue of his eyes met hers. He could see the sympathy all over her face.
“I take it you don’t want to marry me?”
He didn’t expect her to bring that up so bluntly.
“I don’t even know, how could I possibly say that? I barely know you.” He didn’t know how she felt, and Harrison wasn’t going to jeopardise everything for the sake of a girl he’d met a few seconds ago, compared to the woman that was going to be his wife.
She rolled her eyes. “You’re practically drooling over Annie.” 
He became defensive, shaking his head. “I’m not, really, I was just-“ He tried to come up with a quick lie, swallowing nervously. “I was looking at her dress, i-it’s bright and-“
“I don’t want to marry you either.” He let out a breath of air.
“Oh thank God.” She giggled, the man joining in with a more than relieved chuckle. The two had to reassure each other that they just weren’t ready and it was nothing personal, because truly it wasn’t. It didn’t take a genius to see Delilah had clicked with Tom in the stables and Harrison and Annie had some sort of obvious chemistry when they met on the stairs.
“What are we going to do?” she asked, feeling completely useless, letting out a surprised squeal when the Prince twirled her. Harrison shrugged, trying not to let the stress of the situation show on his face, forcing a smile on his lips instead.
“Well people are watching,” he said. “So for now, we dance.”
She hummed. “Now that, I can do.”
»»——⍟——««
June 12th, 1:26pm
A week or so after the ball, Harrison and Delilah were being pushed into spending time together, in their parent’s words it would be ‘building their love connection.’
The two had simply shared an eye roll and had to agree, pretending as though the idea didn’t sound weird and awful. With a few more painful comments from their mothers about how cute they were going to look together, they were ready to go and ‘bond.’
“Oh and, take Annie with you.” Harrison’s eyes widened, glancing over at the girl who looked just as shocked as the pair of royals. She obediently nodded her head, silently accepting that she’d have to get used to the couple somehow and now would maybe be her chance.
“Well Ladies, after you,” Harrison muttered, motioning for the two women to leave the room first. 
The three took a stroll through the gardens of flowers, Delilah and Harrison making polite conversation while Annie hung back. She took the time to admire all the different types of vibrant flowers that looked as though they had been handled with such care.
She thought they were beautiful, and she could only wish the King and Queen would have something like this at their own Palace. As much as she’d begged them, they never gave in. She hadn't noticed that the pair in front had slowed to a stop, partially to give her the chance to catch up so she didn’t get lost in an unknown place.
Harrison’s eyes roamed the side of her face as she admired the rows of beautiful dandelions. He felt heat rising to his cheeks just looking at her, the way the sun beamed down and created something like a halo around her.
“You look at her like she’s the only person in the world, you know.” 
He knew she was right. Harrison hated that he couldn’t control his feelings, that he couldn’t feel for Lilah like he did for Annie. There was just something so unexplainable about her, and he wanted to know so much more.
“To me, she is.” 
Annie turned her head to look at the pair standing together, the baby curls that were framing her face blowing in the gentle breeze. She looked between the two royals who had obviously been watching her and ducked her head down.
She assumed that they’d been waiting on her and she felt guilt rising in her chest.
“Sorry,” she muttered, picking up her pace again and beginning to walk towards them both. Delilah linked her arm through her best friends, flashing her a bright, loving smile.
“Why are you apologising? We were just talking about how pretty you are.” The words came out of her mouth like it was nothing, yet here Annie was almost choking on her own breath. The Prince thought she was pretty?
She wasn’t given time to dwell on it when Harrison quickly jumped in, trying to save himself any awkward questions.
“Come on, I know somewhere we could go.” 
The two women put their trust into Harrison as he led them through a forest type environment. They shared a look of confusion behind the males back, wondering if they dared to speak up.
“You aren’t taking us here to kill us are you?” Annie asked.
Harrison snorted, shaking his head with a rather amused smile planted on his face. “No, I'm not.” 
“Then where are we going?”
He grinned, picking up his pace. He didn’t take into account how difficult it may be for them both to walk through all the fallen branches and twigs while in dresses, meaning he arrived at his surprise destination moments before they did.
The forest opened out into a small meadow-like area, housing a gradual grass bank decorated with the most elegant of flowers, that descended into a smooth flowing stream. The sound of the running water hitting various large rocks and the happy, chirping birds were the only thing that filled the rather calming atmosphere.
The stream looked like a place you could swim if you entered from the other side, the water being more deep than shallow. However, the end Harrison had led you to allowed you to comfortably see the bottom through the clear river.
Annie studied the place in awe, feeling an overwhelming calming sensation fill her body just standing there. The Princess was already off to admire the wildlife she’d spotted in the trees, wanting to get a closer look at the loud spoken birds.
For Annie this felt like a whole new experience, they didn’t have places this ethereal back home.
“This place is gorgeous,” she whispered. Harrison took his chance, seeing as this was the first time he was pretty much alone with Annie. She felt his presence behind her as she looked out across the stream.
“How did you find this?” 
He shoved his hands in his pockets, kicking at one of the stones beside his shoe. 
“I found it when I was a kid actually,” he said, smiling at the memory of that day. “I was riding and my horse got startled, ran off and left me in the mud, literally.” 
She giggled, the sound like music to the blonde’s ears. Speaking of his ears, they were currently tinting red from the embarrassed blush she’d managed to put on his face.
“I went to go and find him and found him drinking from the stream, must have known it was here.” 
Delilah didn’t know what the two were talking about, but she did know that look in Annie’s eyes. The girl was admiring Harrison with soft eyes filled with adoration while he told his story, laughing every time he laughed, smiling when she saw the crinkles next to his eyes.
“Come on,” he said, holding his hand out for the girl. She tilted her head, tentatively locking her fingers with his. He led her down the small hill, closer to the running stream of water.
He gently placed his hands on her shoulders when the two came to a stop, him feeling her body relax under his tender touch.
The water was now only a hand width away, and she had to admit that the view from down here was much more exquisite than the view from above. 
She could feel Harrison’s hands trailing down her arms, jumping to her lower back all of a sudden.
“What are you-“
She didn’t even manage to finish her sentence before Harrison was pushing her forward into the water. She gasped, trying to reach for him but to no avail.
He made no attempt to catch her as she fell onto her bum in the water, not deep enough to fully submerge her but deep enough to splash her so her dress was now drenched with pond water.
The Prince was laughing loudly, finding it truly hilarious how she pouted up at him while small water droplets trickled down her face.
“Harrison,” she whined, standing in the dripping dress as he laughed at her. Delilah watched in amusement upon the grass, shaking her head at just how obvious the adorable puppy-love attraction between them was.
He offered out his hand to her, telling her that he’d help her over the small rocks so she didn’t slip and fall. Annie saw that as an opportunity to get her own back, tugging on his hands so he fell in with her this time.
Granted it meant she also fell back into the water, Harrison practically on top of her, but the girl simply couldn’t stop laughing at the shock written all over his face.
“That was so mean,” he groaned. Only at his words did she look up, noticing just how close to her he was. His hands were holding him up so he was hovering above her, and her laughter slowly died down as she noticed how their faces were only a few inches apart.
“You pushed me in first,” she whispered. The two were lost in the other’s eyes. From this close Annie could see every different fleck of blue in his eyes, every tiny freckle on his face and-
“Hey lovebirds, you should really dry off if you want to make it back in time for dinner.” 
The pair's cheeks flushed at Delilah’s interruption, remembering that the two weren’t alone at all. 
Harrison had to be the first one to get to his feet from his position on top of her, holding out his hand with a pinky promise that neither one would push the other in again.
He helped Annie back to the grass bank, the two deciding that they would need to lay in the sun in order to dry off their clothes.
Harrison had pulled down his suspenders so they were hanging off of his hips, unbuttoning the first few buttons of his shirt hoping it would dry quicker. He laid down with his back against the grass, letting the sun loom over him.
The girl didn’t take long in joining him, laying beside him quietly. It was peaceful, the two soaking up the sun and the silence together.
Annie grew uncomfortable after a while, feeling her hair dampen the back of her clothes further. She pushed herself up out of her laying position until she was sitting upright, catching Harrison’s attention.
Her hand ran over the messy curls, her bottom lip jutting out adorably.
“My hair’s a mess,” she complained, pulling apart the thin string of ribbon that held it into a loose ponytail, now dripping wet with the water from the stream.
“I could plait it for you if you’d like,” he offered. She looked at him with slight amusement, almost disbelief.
“Really?” He simply nodded, holding his hand out to take the ribbon from her. He let her crawl between his spread legs, sitting with her back towards him so he could reach her wet curls.
He separated the strands as gently as he could, trying not to pull too hard. 
“Where did you learn to do hair?” she asked, feeling him start the plait off correctly. Harrison grinned, his skilled hands creating the perfect braid down her back.
“I have a little sister.” 
Annie’s eyes widened, looking over her shoulder at the boy in shock. He quietly scolded her for ruining his concentration, making her face back in the direction she was originally.
“Why haven’t I seen her in the castle?” 
He chuckled. “You probably have, would’ve thought she was a maid with the dresses she wears.” 
He noticed her visibly tense, her demeanor changing quickly.
“What’s wrong with maids?” she asked. His eyes widened, clearing his throat.
“N-Nothing I just-“ He didn’t know how to dig himself out of this hole he’d got himself in. “I just meant she blends in, doesn’t act like a Princess either.” 
She nodded. Harrison could tell he’d messed up slightly. He hadn’t meant to offend her in any way and now he felt bad. He carefully tied the ribbon around the end of her hair, sealing off her plait tightly. He let out a sigh, gently moving to put his hands on her arms.
“I’m sorry if I upset you.” 
She sent him a smile, shaking her head. “It’s okay.” 
Over the course of the next few hours Annie noticed how touchy Harrison had got with her, wanting to, at the minimum, hold her hand. She wasn’t sure if it was his way of making up for what he said, but she wasn’t mad at it.
So, when the three of them headed back to the castle, he was completely reluctant to let go. He ran his thumb over her knuckles one last time before sadly releasing her hand, her positive smile causing him to break out into a smile too.
Harrison and Delilah were bombarded with questions from their mothers as soon as they stepped through the main door of the castle. They were ushered into a gorgeous, grand room where the ladies were sitting having tea.
“You’re back,” Alice announced. 
Harrison’s mother tried to invite them all to sit down, instructing some of the maids to pour them some tea. He politely refused, telling the nice women not to bother.
“We’d love to hear all about your day,” she gushed, taking Harrison’s face in her hands with a grin. Lilah let out a quiet laugh, earning a glare from the Prince who was anything but happy.
“Actually, I was just going to introduce Delilah here to my horse,” he explained, quickly creating a lie so he could avoid having any kind of tea with their mothers. More so because he couldn’t really tell them what they’d done with their day, nor did he even want to try.
He noticed her perk up in her stance, probably at the thought of getting to see Tom in the stables.
“Horse?” her mother asked, slight disgust in her tone. He forced a smile, stiffly nodding his head. Delilah sent her mother a stern look. “Right, Annette you’re going with them, yes?”
The girl looked up from her place in the corner. Lilah noticed in the corner of her eye the way Harrison stood straighter when Annie looked in their direction, trying to stifle a giggle at how obvious his crush on her was.
“Yes, I suppose so,” she smiled. Queen Alice nodded, cupping the back of Annie’s head to move her along.
“Dear, do you know your hair is wet?” Her eyes widened slightly, flashing the Queen a nervous smile, but she calmly shrugged it off.
“It must be from my shower this morning,” she explained. Annie was just praying that she didn’t notice the way her hair had gone from being in a ponytail to a slightly messy plait. The long pause of silence made her nervous, the girl flicking her eyes over to the other people in the room.
“Very well, go ahead.” 
It was only a short walk down to the stables, but in that time Harrison had managed to lock his fingers with Annie’s again. Neither of them said anything about it, just sporting grins instead, ones that made Lilah roll her eyes.
Upon entering the stables they noticed Tom petting Harrison’s horse, reminding Lilah of the day the two had met where he’d more or less been in the same position as he was in now.
“Oh hello, what are you all doing here?” Annie and Harrison shared a look when they noticed Tom trying to discreetly tidy himself up a little, having been looking a tad bit ragged from working the stables all day.
“We’re escaping our mothers and their tea,” Harrison explained. If Tom was even listening to him he didn’t show it, his eyes fixed right on Lilah’s.
“Would you two be okay if I maybe went with Tom somewhere?” she asked, turning her head over her shoulder to look at the two amused faces behind her. “I could always meet your horse another time.” 
Annie grinned up at Harrison, whispering to let them go have fun for a little while, seeing as Delilah had spent the whole day watching her and Harrison have the time of their lives together.
“Go,” he encouraged. Tom sent his friend a grateful look, tugging Delilah away from the pair. They watched as she linked her arm with Tom’s, the stable boy leading her out into the gardens somewhere.
“What’s his name?” Annie asked once the two were out of sight. The Prince smiled, turning his attention back to his horse.
“This is Moonlight,” Harrison said, running his hand over the main of the lovely horse. Annie grinned at the name, prepared to begin her teasing on how it was slightly silly. no 
“Moonlight, really?” 
He scoffed playfully, sending her a look. “I named him when I was a child.” 
The two descended into a comfortable silence, stroking the soft fur of the horse. Annie couldn’t hold back anymore, needing to make some kind of comment about the name once again.
“It’s rather silly though, don’t you think?” Harrison pushed her arm lightly, shaking his head at her teasing. He wrapped his arms around her waist, the girl biting her lip to hide her wide grin as his face rested so close to hers.
“Maybe I think your name’s rather silly.” 
She giggled, looking over her shoulder. Harrison’s nose was practically pushing against hers in an eskimo kiss, the two so close that they were surprised their lips weren’t brushing over one anothers.
Annie had to be the one to pull away, knowing she couldn’t steal the woman, who was basically her employer’s soon to be fiancé away.
“We can’t,” she whispered, unwrapping herself from his arms. He frowned, having the knowledge that Tom and Delilah were probably doing the exact same thing with no regard for Harrison, so why couldn’t he kiss the girl he likes?
“Annie,” he said softly.
“So, tell me more about Moonlight.”
»»——⍟——««
June 25th, 11:31am
The longer Harrison and The Princess had to get to know each other, the more time he actually spent with the handmaiden, falling deeper in love by the day. So fast that it scared him. 
It was around the three week mark when Tom finally decided he was going to spend the day with the girl he liked alone, leaving Harrison and Annie the opportunity to also spend the day together. The plan was to keep it as secret as possible, mainly because it’d be very frowned upon if his mother found out he didn’t love the girl he was meant to marry. But if either of them got caught they had already made their excuses to explain what was happening; The males were assisting the ladies riding the horses, simple. 
Annie was obviously protective of Delilah, she was a Princess she had to be, so she was very uncertain about leaving her alone with Tom, a man they had only met a week or so prior.
“You don’t have to watch them you know,” he whispered, watching the way she raked her eyes over the pair cautiously. She turned to face Harrison with a small smile.
“I just want to make sure he behaves.” 
“He will, trust me.” She hesitated before giving in under his soft stare, nodding her head. 
She turned her attention to Moonlight, gently stroking the bridge of the stallion's nose. The horse really was beautiful to her, a very light shade of white that reminded her of the prettiest daisies she used to have in her garden growing up and the darkest eyes that still managed to feel comforting. He was arguably one of the cutest horses she’d ever seen, but she wouldn’t be boosting Harrison’s ego with that information.
“Do you want to go for a ride?” he asked, noticing the way her eyes were admiring the creature.
She turned her head to look at him, scanning his pretty face to see if he was being serious. When he didn’t budge she nodded, a grin creeping onto her lips at the idea of being able to ride a horse for the first time in weeks.
“Do you need to change?” He motioned to the puffy dress she was wearing, hinting that it probably wouldn’t work well with two people on a horse, or even herself on a horse. Dresses we’re definitely not made for riding.
“I only have dresses.” There was a slight pout on her lips. She took this to mean she couldn’t go riding with Harrison like she’d wanted, essentially crushing part of her spirit.
Harrison was quiet for a minute, giving Annie a chance to admire his face deep in thought. That was until his eyes lit up with an idea. 
“What if you wore some of my clothes?” 
She didn’t have time to agree nor protest as Harrison began enthusiastically dragging her to his room, all the way from the gardens. They got some strange looks from some of the guards, the men suspicious as to why he was running around with some girl that definitely wasn’t the Princess he was meant to be getting engaged to.
Obviously people were going to be suspicious when he was taking another woman up to his room.
“Wait here,” he instructed.
This was the first time Annie had been in the Prince’s room during her multiple week stay at the castle, so she took her time to admire the large, surprisingly homey room.
He grabbed some of the smallest clothes of his he could find, probably not that small when you considered Annie wasn’t a 5’10 muscular man like he was.
Harrison watched as her eyes roamed the four walls, a soft, admirable look on her face. 
“Here you go,” he said, handing the folded up clothes to her with a smile. He grew nervous when she just stared at him, not quite understanding what else there was to do. She rolled her eyes at his visible obliviousness.
“Turn around,” she demanded, ending her sentence with a quiet giggle. Harrison made a quiet ‘oh’ sound and obeyed, staring blankly at the wall as he listened to the material of her clothing drop to the floor.
He waited patiently as she pulled on the oversized clothes, hearing a few huffs from the girl behind him. They made her sound even cuter than he already thought she was.
“I’m done,” she grumbled. He turned back around, snorting at the way the clothes basically fell off of her body, making her look like a toddler that was trying on their parents' clothing.
“They don’t fit,” she whined, looking at Harrison with an expression that resembled a small child. He had to bite back his laugh. Obviously he was much taller and bigger than Annie, so his clothes practically swallowed the girl up. 
“Come here,” he whispered. She followed his instruction eagerly, shuffling over to him so she didn’t trip over the length of the trousers, until she was standing within a hand width away.
He ended up helping her back into her corset, keeping the shirt fitted to her body tightly. The two shared giggles as she attempted to instruct the clueless royal on how to properly fasten a corset, something he’d never had to do before. 
She would shiver involuntarily more or less every time his fingertips brushed her back, her gasps not only being due to the added restriction to her breathing, even if that’s what she would claim it was.
“How’s that?” he asked, tying off the strings of the corset in a tight bow. She nodded her head, taking a breath as deep as she could.
“Perfect.” She could feel the heat from his body radiating off of him due to how close he was, her heartbeat speeding up significantly.
His finger teasingly hooked into the waistband of the trousers she’d been holding up, tugging them to emphasise just how loose they were. She let out a giggle, playfully slapping his hands away. Harrison now had to come up with some way to keep the material from constantly falling down her legs.
That’s when his eyes caught sight of the thin piece of red ribbon that was tying her hair together in a simple braid, similar to the one he’d done for her by the stream. She gasped when Harrison pulled it free, pushing it through the loops of his trousers so they were fitted as tightly  to her waist as they could be. Annie could feel his breath on the back of her neck at the close proximity of the male, the warmth sending more and more shivers down her spine as time ticked on.
“I’m sorry about your hair,” he said, running his fingers through the mess of the braid until it came fully undone. The curly locks were now falling against the material of the borrowed shirt, covering up small parts of her face that Harrison wished he could see.
She turned around to face him, meeting his eyes almost instantly, seeing as they’d been burning holes into the back of her head.
Harrison’s hand came up to brush her hair out of her face like an instinct, tucking it behind her ears with utmost care and gentle touch, exposing those parts of her face that he wanted to see.
His striking baby blues were completely locked on her soft brown orbs, acting as a way of silent communication for the pair.
Neither of them noticed how they were getting closer, not until one more slight forward movement would cause their lips to brush.
“Better?” he asked, his lips barely even an inch away from hers. She gulped nervously, nodding her head. The clothes may not have fitted like they would if a tailor had made them specifically for her, but Harrison had done a good job of getting them to fit well enough for a ride on his horse.
There was a knock at the door that forced the two away from each other with a startled jump, standing side by side with wide eyes. Thankfully it was only Tom and Delilah, Harrison isn’t sure he’d actually want to find out what would happen if it was someone like his mother.
“What are you wearing?” she asked, her voice laced with utter disgust. Tom let out a snort, shaking his head at just how much she really did sound like a Princess.
“We’re going riding,” Annie explained, in a quiet voice that told Harrison she was embarrassed. He rolled his eyes, pulling her into his side with his arm around her waist. The girl’s eyes widened, looking up at the Prince in shock.
“I think she looks beautiful. Now, if you don’t mind,” he motioned for her to go ahead. “M’Lady.” 
Tom and Delilah shared a look, the two thinking the exact same thing, those two had fallen for each other, hard, and there was no way either of them could give that up if it did eventually come down to a wedding.
Harrison led Annie all the way back down the short walk to the stables, the two refusing to unlock their interlaced fingers even in front of the prying eyes of the maids and guards, who of which would be sure to try and tell his mother.
It wasn’t long until the pair were reunited with the horse they’d left only minutes prior, Annie’s hand running over Moonlight’s soft fur.
“Are you ready to go for a ride?” 
She nodded happily. Moonlight already had a saddle on his back, Annie assuming one of the stable boy’s had got him ready to go. She watched as Harrison easily hoisted himself up onto the horses back, shifting until he got comfortable on the seat.
“Come on,” he chuckled, generously holding his hand out to help her up. She grinned excitedly, taking his hand and using his assistance to make it onto the horse.
“Now, hold on,” he winked. 
She hesitantly wrapped her arms around his torso, her grip only growing tighter when they began to move. It wasn’t that she had never ridden a horse before, she even had her own, but she’d never been the one not in control of said horse. She hadn’t even known Harrison a month, so she didn’t know if she could even trust him as much as she’d like to. 
“I’ve got you I promise.”
The two didn’t have a destination, just knowing that they wanted to spend as much time away from the palace as they could. It was quiet, but it was that kind of comfortable silence that’s almost enjoyable. 
Harrison had started looking for somewhere they could stop and spend some time, spotting a nice looking area on the hill over by some trees that would look over the entire kingdom. 
“Is here okay?” he asked. She nodded her head, mumbling a perfect under her breath as Harrison willed Moonlight to a stop. He helped her down from the horse until her feet were once again firmly planted on land. 
“This whole place is breathtaking,” she commented, motioning out to the homes of the kingdom. 
Annie had decided to lay down on the soft grass in the line of the sun’s rays. Harrison watched her with a smile as he tied the reigns of his precious animal to a nearby tree so he wouldn’t stray too far. 
The Prince was quick to join the lady laying on the ground, a soft smile on his face that he just couldn’t hide. He took a few moments to admire the way the sun was beaming down on her face, her eyes closed to protect those beautiful honey orbs from the harsh light. He thought she looked like an angel, all of her best features accentuated by the soft glow. 
He decided that he wanted to get to know her more, casting his eyes nervously up to the sky when he saw her own flicker open. 
“So, how did you end up a handmaiden to the Princess?” he asked, curiously. The question was innocent of course, obviously he didn’t know her life story, but it still made her tear up slightly to think about.
Thankfully, he wasn’t looking at her, instead looking up at the unusually bright June sky, the sun blinding him to the point he had to block it out with his hand.
“My mother was Delilah’s nanny,” she began, a small smile on her lips as she reminisced. Harrison turned his head watching the way she talked about her family with so much love. “Until she died when she was around 11.”
He frowned, sitting up slightly to rest on his elbow, so he could get a better look at her face, a better read on her emotions.
“Her parents thought the least they could do was give me a job when I could work, after all the loyalty my mother had given them over the years,” she explained. “They thought it wasn’t fair to let us go hungry.”
He listened intently, letting her know that he was hearing her every word. He did feel bad, he felt bad for even asking the question, but he hated that she had to experience those hardships where she didn’t know if her family would be able to eat the next day, when his entire life it was the complete opposite.
“When my father died, that was when they took me in, gave me a room in their home and treated me like a daughter. As long as I kept up my job of course.” There was a faint smile decorating her lips as she stared up at the clouds in the sky, giving Harrison the time to admire her.
She eventually turned her head towards him, a small smile creeping onto her face when she caught sight of him staring.
She didn’t really want to discuss the topic anymore, she’d received enough pity over the course of her life and she definitely wasn’t planning on receiving more from the man she liked.
“How did you meet Tom?”
»»——⍟——««
June 25th, 4:28pm
The two agreed on a slow walk back, Harrison holding the reins of his horse while Annie walked beside him. Conversation flowed easily, sweet stories of memories from their past being uttered in the quiet atmosphere of the vacant field.
“I don’t even want to go back,” she mumbled, sending Harrison a sad glance.
“Why not?”
“Today was just so perfect, and I don’t want to go back to engagement party preparations.” He understood completely, his mother had been getting way too out of hand with planning his wedding to Delilah, of which he still wasn’t happy about, when he hadn’t even proposed properly yet. He didn’t know when he was meant to propose but he hoped it was far enough away that he could try to convince his mother otherwise.
He’d tried to push all the thoughts about the engagement to the back of his mind all day but her words just brought them all back, forcing a frown onto his face as he watched her face as she walked. 
“Annie, I-” He turned to face her, taking one of her hands into his free one, his other still holding onto the reins. She was scared to look up at him, wondering if she just managed to spoil everything that had happened the whole day. “Please look at me,” he mumbled. 
Her eyes flickered up to look at his baby blues, her heart soaring due to the look of love in his soft orbs. He had a small smile on his face, their close proximity letting him gently rub their noses together. 
She knew he wouldn’t try to kiss her without her permission, noticing him open his mouth to ask exactly for that. She giggled quietly, letting her hands slide up to rest against his chest. 
“Annie-“
“Just kiss me,” she whispered. He nodded his head, leaning down until their lips brushed past each other so lightly it almost didn’t happen. She took charge, leaning on her tiptoes to take control of the kiss. She pressed her lips on his, tilting her head to properly slot them together. Annie’s stomach was in a jumble of knots as Harrison’s hand travelled from her cheek down to the side of her neck, his thumb applying the slightest pressure on her throat that took her breath away for numerous reasons. 
She could feel the cool metal of his family crest engraved ring pressing against her flushed skin, making her heart race in her ribcage. 
He broke away from her lips primarily to take a second to catch his breath, but he also wanted to give some love to her neck. She was panting heavily as his lips followed an invisible trail from the corner of her mouth, down to her jaw, down her neck- oh down her neck. He heard the breathy moan she let slip loud and clear. The sound hitting his ears perfectly. It made his knees weak knowing he had the most perfect girl he’d ever seen falling apart for him purely from something as simple as a few kisses. 
She gently guided his lips back to hers when she felt like she’d die if she didn’t kiss him again soon. This kiss was slower than the first, the two really taking their time to memorise everything about the others lips. 
He got lost in her, finally letting go of the reins to thread his hand in her curls, pulling her impossibly deeper into the kiss. This was arguably the best kiss either of them had ever experienced, sparks flying with each desperate clash of their lips. 
Neither of them were expecting the spontaneous heavy rainfall, a gasp coming from Annie as she was suddenly drenched in the rainwater. She’d pulled away from Harrison, looking up at him with a contagious giggle. He leaned back in with a smile, planting one more kiss on her soft lips. “Your lips taste amazing,” he whispered, drawing a blush to her cheeks. 
He removed his hand from her hair slowly, deciding that they couldn’t stay in the rain for much longer, especially when they weren’t moving. 
They picked up their walking pace, heading straight for the stables where, like this, they would have to spend the night. 
With the speed they were practically jogging at, they arrived in no time, the pair running into the dry warmth of the stable with loud bubbling laughter. 
Luckily, thanks to his jacket, the shirt she was wearing of Harrison’s hadn’t gotten too wet, meaning she could still wear it. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for the Prince, after giving his jacket to the girl like the gentleman he was, he was now soaking wet with rainwater. 
“If you don’t want to freeze, i’d suggest you take off your top.” Harrison’s eyes widened slightly at her almost demand, not knowing where the surge of confidence to say something that could’ve been perceived so differently had come from.
By the time he had snapped out of his daze Annie was already unlacing her corset, he didn’t know if she was just loosening it or if she was actually taking off the whole thing but Harrison looked away, trying to give her the privacy she deserved, trying also to busy himself with his horse.
“Harrison,” she mumbled. He hummed, not wanting to risk turning around. “I was serious about you freezing.” 
Harrison stubbornly unbuttoned the shirt he was wearing, folding it over one of the shelves to try and give it time to dry before the morning. If Harrison had to walk back to the castle shirtless, it probably wouldn’t be a good look.
Harrison headed for the blankets next, the ones he usually kept in here from when he was a boy and refused to part with his horse for the night. He walked back to Annie with a small smile on his lips. 
He wrapped the warm material around her shivering frame, noticing she’d also taken off the corset and the wet trousers, both of which were now left to dry off to the side.
“Thank you,” she muttered, teeth chattering due to the cold. Harrison nodded his head, moving to make sure Moonlight was okay before he himself could settle down. 
It didn’t take long for the male to realise he only had the one blanket, conveniently the one that was wrapped around Annie’s shoulders currently. He cursed under his breath, trying not to visibly shiver at the gust of cold air that blew throughout the stable. He didn’t know Annie had been watching him the whole time he was thinking about his crisis, noticing how he was shaking from the lack of heat in his body.
She stood up from her spot on some hay, heading over to him with the intent of not taking no for an answer.
Her arms wrapped around his torso from behind, the blanket starting to cover some of his body. Even the little bit of fabric helped to warm him up ever so slightly.
His back was cold to the touch, the kind of cold where your body felt numb. Annie took his hand, leading him over to the hay she had been sitting on. It took awhile for the two to find a comfortable enough position to lay in.
The blanket only ended up being big enough to cover them both if they laid with their chest’s touching. Annie’s head was comfortably resting on Harrison’s chest, her arms wrapped around his torso. While one of his hands was running through her hair, stroking his hand over her head, the other wrapping around her body to keep her warmth as close to him as possible.
His hand stroked up and down her back for a little while, soothing her to sleep with the calming sound of the rain that continued to pour outside. 
“Goodnight Harrison,” she whispered. He smiled, running his fingers through her damp hair. He placed a sweet kiss to the top of her head, squeezing her impossibly closer to him.
“Goodnight, darling.” 
Harrison hadn’t been able to get to sleep that night. At first he assumed it was from the uncomfortable feeling of the hay bails on his bare back, but when he saw how sound on Annie was, he knew it couldn’t be that. 
No, he was scared to death of being caught by someone, with her, like this. Obviously he knew how it would be perceived at first glance, especially without any knowledge of what had happened prior, and he couldn’t risk that.
He knew that if anyone were to come in early in the morning it’d most likely be Tom or his father, and if so he could easily persuade them to keep quiet.
The next morning Annie was woken up early by the loud chirping of the birds in the nearby trees, the sun barely rising in the sky. She was alone now, the blanket wrapped solely around her body tightly and no longer around Harrisons.
She stretched her arms above her head, letting out a small sigh at the feeling of her muscles relaxing. She spotted Harrison leaning against the door of the stable, still shirtless, just watching the light drizzle of rain and the sun beginning to rise over the castle.
She kept the blanket around her shoulders, moving over to where the man she adored stood, looking like one of those Greek God’s she’d read about in one of Delilah’s fancy books.
“Good morning,” she whispered. He turned his head to see her standing there, her hair messier than it’d been last night, he thought it made her look even more gorgeous though.
“Hi. Come here,” he cooed, holding out his hand for her to take. Annie’s eyebrows drew together in confusion, taking his hand anyway. He pointed to the sunrise just beyond the castle, watching as her face twisted into one of awe.
He coaxed her body back into his chest, wrapping his arms around her protectively. He rested his chin on the top of her head, exhaling slowly. This was the kind of love he wanted, the kind that was just so easy and natural. Annie could give him that, not Delilah. 
He hated the fact that he couldn’t marry the girl he was falling so hopelessly in love with, how was he meant to give all this up?
»»——⍟——««
July 2nd, 9:03am
In retrospect after being in the Osterfield’s kingdom for almost a month the ladies probably should’ve visited their village earlier. Except for the most part they’d been locked up in the castle being wooed by two angel-like boys.
“This place is so lovely,” she whispered, looking around at all the different people communicating outside of the different stalls set up along the street. People sold a variety of things here, bright bouquets of flowers that added that pop of colour to the grey town walls and jewellery that would glint in the sun, they had it all and it was beautiful.
Delilah didn’t see it that way, as much as the Princess would say she wasn’t, she was spoiled and anything to do with ‘commoners’ usually didn’t interest her. Unless their name was Tom and he had curly, brown hair.
“Why are we here again?” she asked, linking her arm with Annie’s so she didn’t get lost in the crowd. The latter sighed, rolling her eyes.
“Because, it’s Harrison’s birthday soon and I wanted to get him a gift.” Delilah nodded, looking around the busy streets of the large kingdom. 
“You should too, you know,” she said. The Princess looked back at her in confusion, furrowing her brow. “Get him a gift, he is going to be your husband.” 
She could sense some hostility in those final words, her face dropping slightly. She knew Annie was falling for Harrison, but Annie knew that Delilah didn’t love him, and the poor girl didn’t understand why she was taking out her emotions on her.
“I suppose so.” She hadn’t even remembered when Harrison had mentioned it was his birthday, but she guessed it was the least she could do. 
The pair walked down the streets just admiring the decorations that were already being strung up in honour of his birthday, the whole town celebrating the young Prince no longer being a teen.
“Delilah? Annie?” Their heads turned at the sound of the familiar voice. They found the curly haired brunette standing there with a confused look on his face, one of his hands on the shoulder of a much smaller boy that Annie had never seen before, while two older looking boys stood beside him.
“Tom.” She saw the Princesses face light up when she saw the man she’d fallen for, her heart aching at the way she treated her when she obviously didn’t love Harrison.
“What are you both doing here?” he asked. Lilah’s eyes fell from Toms to Paddys, her eyes lighting up when she realised she had something for him.
“This is for you.” She’d reached into her bag and pulled out a book, one that looked very familiar to the young boy. “The one you had looked like it was falling apart, so this is a new copy.” 
His eyes widened, heart racing as he hesitated to take it from her, not sure if he should or not. His eyes flickered from the Princesses warm ones to Tom’s confused ones.
“Lilah, you don’t have to.” She shook her head, insisting that Paddy take it. The boy thanked her profusely, showing the book to the twins like it was some prize he’d won. She had a warm smile on her face as she watched him gush over it.
“Thank you,” Tom said, drawing her attention back to him. She simply nodded, holding that same look in her eye that Annie got when it came to Harrison.
“What are you both actually doing here?” 
The handmaiden smiled, a blush creeping up onto her cheeks as she thought about what now seemed like a rather silly idea. “I-I wanted to get Harrison a birthday present.”
He smiled, thinking it was rather cute. He whispered something to his brothers, watching closely as they scattered away before turning back to the two girls.
“Well, I’m here to offer my services to help you look.” 
Lilah was over the moon that he was coming with, happily lacing her fingers with his, forgetting about the surrounding public.
“What about a ring?” Annie asked, looking at the cart that had a fair amount displayed. She checked with Tom, not wanting to make the wrong decision here. 
He gave her a nod, too wrapped up in the way Delilah was trying to kiss him to give her a full response. She rolled her eyes, sending a warm smile to the man who was selling them.
It didn’t take her long for her eyes to land on one that she deemed perfect, imagining the way Harrison would wear it.
“That one, please,” she mumbled, looking directly at a beautiful gold pinky ring with a black gem in the middle. She handed over the necessary amount of money- well Lilah’s money, cause hey that was one of the perks of being best friends with a Princess.
“Thank you.” 
The three continued their walk down the long avenue. Annie twirled the ring in her fingers, panicking slightly as she thought about all the different reactions Harrison could give her. He could either absolutely love it and fall even more helplessly in love, or he could hate it and could- Tom had noticed the internal battle going on, taking his attention away from his love to gently squeeze Annie’s arm. “He’ll love it, trust me.” 
She knew it wasn’t enough to get him to call off the deal with Queen Alice and his mother, but she at least hoped it could prove her love for him.
“I hope so.” 
Tom was leading them somewhere completely unknown to both of them, well the whole place was unknown to both of them, but still.
“Where are we going?” 
He flashed the girl who wasn’t clinging to him a smile, bringing them all to a standstill in front of a rather cute, dainty house, one that reminded Annie much of her own home growing up. 
“Home.” 
She was the only one to notice the reluctance in Lilah’s eyes as Tom led her through the door of his family home. She tried to silently reassure her, squeezing her arm with a comforting smile. 
The two didn’t have much longer to think about anything, being swarmed by Thomas’ younger brothers that they’d seen earlier.
Paddy instantly rushed over to Delilah, wanting to discuss the next part of Romeo and Juliet he’d managed to read, while the twins headed straight for Annie.
“We didn’t formally meet earlier, I’m Harry.” The curly haired boy leaned down and placed a kiss on the handmaidens knuckles, a giggle escaping her at how cute he was. 
“And I’m Sam, his twin, the older one.” He too placed a kiss on her hand, both teens clearly getting the idea that she was free for the taking. Tom let out a sigh, flicking the both of the boy’s heads.
“The Prince will have your heads,” he muttered. The twins murmured and left the pretty girl to her own devices, hearing her laughing quietly at the brotherly behaviour. Her attention was drawn to Paddy, the quiet brother who was just simply staring at her and waiting for his turn. 
When he noticed her looking back, he jumped up with a smile. “Hi, I’m Paddy.”
He shook her hand politely, flashing her a toothy grin.
“Well hello Paddy, I’m Annie.” 
She was amazed at how intelligent the ten year old was, using some words that she didn’t think even she knew the meaning of, but nonetheless she still enjoyed the conversation.
However, how would it be a conversation with a Holland boy if one of the brothers didn’t interrupt.
“Harrison better watch out, I think Paddy’s stolen his girl.”
»»——⍟——««
July 4th, 5:54am
Harrison didn’t expect to hear a knock at his bedroom door in the middle of the night, nor did he particularly want to answer it. It had woken him up and he wasn’t all too happy about it. The Prince rose from his comfortable, plush bed with a groan. 
He didn’t bother to throw on a shirt or any clothing on his top half, considering he thought it would only be one of the guards, heading towards the door with heavy, tired eyes.
“Hello?” He pulled it open to find Annie standing there with a large smile, the girl pushing her way into the room without so much as a hello. He furrowed his eyebrows, checking for any guards that may have seen her, thankfully there were none, before closing the door carefully and quietly, cautious to not make too much noise.
He startled when she cupped his cheeks in her cold hands as soon as he turned around, her wide grin making him break out into a smile himself.
“Your hands are-“ 
She cut him off without a care, shaking her head. “Happy birthday,” she whispered, slotting her much softer lips on his chapped ones. The kiss was slow and passionate, every ounce of love they had for each other poured into the simple act of intimacy.
“Thank you, love.” 
Harrison laced their fingers together and led her to the spot where he’d been sleeping, laying back against the headboard with his arms out. She happily crawled into his embrace, resting her head on his bare chest with a content sigh.
It was comfortably silent between the two for a few minutes, her fingertip lightly tracing circles on his stomach, while he mirrored the patterns she was making on the nape of her neck, a light breath of air coming out of her nose every time he managed to tickle her.
Annie eventually cleared her throat, drawing his eyes back over to her face where they’d just momentarily left.
“I got you something.” She pulled the small wrapped box from behind her back, letting it sit in the palm of her hand, Harrison noticing the ribbon matching the one that he always saw tied in her hair.
“You didn’t have to.” 
She placed her hand on his cheek gently, pecking his lips for a short second. “I wanted to.” 
In the past week they’d grown impossibly closer, sharing and sneaking kisses when they could, going on horse rides back to the meadow where he’d pushed her in the stream, it was lovely.
“Open it,” she said, pushing it into his hands.
He had a small grin on his face as he pulled the smaller string on the bow, watching it fall undone in his lap while Annie stared at him with childlike excitement. He carefully lifted the lid off of the box, his eyes widening at the sight of the beautiful ring laying inside, glinting in the light shining in from the window.
“Annie,” he whispered, slightly awestruck, his eyes flickering up to hers. Even knowing each other for such a short time was enough that she knew him perfectly. She took that as a sign that he wasn’t impressed, making her even more nervous than she already was.
“D-Do you like it?” He could sense the nerves in her voice, rapidly nodding his head. He took it from the box, sliding it on to his finger to show her with a boyish smile.
He placed a chaste kiss on her lips, bringing his thumb of the opposite hand up to stroke over her bottom lip. Their faces were so close that any slight movement would mean their lips were touching again, but the pair rather enjoyed that.
“I love it, thank you.” 
Every word he spoke, he spoke with enough emotion that she would know he was being honest. He didn’t want her to doubt herself for even a second.
Harrison suddenly got an idea, telling her to hang on one second while he climbed off of the bed. Annie was left to watch him roam around, her eyes tracing the dips and muscles of his muscular back, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth as she thought about how he truly was beautiful.
The man grabbed something from his dresser, hiding it in his palm as he walked back over to the bed. He crawled in beside her, back in his previous position.
“While I have this one,” he started, taking her left hand in his grasp. He placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand, raising it up to his mouth. “I want you to keep this one safe for me.” 
He held up the item he’d just collected, showing the family encrusted ring that normally decorated his pinky finger.
“Harrison, I can’t.” He shook his head, not allowing her to make any sort of excuse.
“I trust you.” He held her hand tightly, sliding the ring onto her ring finger as though it was their wedding day. She could only imagine how much she’d like that to be a wedding band that was currently decorating her skin.
She tried to hide the faint blush coming through on her cheeks but Harrison was quick to notice it, a small smirk on his face as he watched her get all flustered at his gesture.
“A-Are you sure, what if I lose it?” she asked, thinking of all the possible outcomes where in her mind they ended with Harrison getting mad at her.
“Annie I-“ he hesitated, sending her a nervous glance. “I know this is soon but, I think I’m falling in love with you and I-“
“I think I’m falling in love with you too.” 
Their smiles were contagious, the two finding it hard to share a kiss when they were unable to wipe the grins from their faces.
“Spend the day with me,” he all but demanded. Annie didn’t need any convincing, nodding her head rapidly.
“I’d love to.” 
Due to it barely being 6am, the two decided on taking a quick nap together, after Harrison locked the door to his room so no unwanted visitors would show. He held her tightly in his arms, watching the sun peak out in the sky as her breathing grew steadier.
He struggled to fall asleep at first, admiring the beautiful girl laying on his chest. His thumb rubbed over her cheekbone as gently as he could so he wouldn’t wake her, his lips lightly grazing her forehead.
It seemed as though the universe wasn’t on their side that day. As soon as they tried to do anything there was some kind of interruption. Less than an hour into their nap, after Harrison had finally managed to drift off, there was a heavy knock on the Prince’s door, startling them both from their sleep.
The two had planned to go on a walk through the gardens and have a picnic around lunchtime, only to find that it was raining as they began to prepare to do so.
Then the Queen called her son away on royal duties when they decided that they would just sit in the greenhouse which held the glass roof, watching the rain together seeing as there wasn’t much else they could do.
“I am so sorry,” he apologised, finding the girl still sitting watching the rain pour. She looked over her shoulder at him with a smile, shaking her head.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure the birthday boy is very popular.” He chuckled, kneeling down beside her to press a kiss to her temple. 
“What can I do to make this up to you?” he asked, stroking his hand over her soft curls. 
“Just sit with me.” And that he did, perching himself in the chair next to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders so she could cuddle into his side.
The evening rolled around all too fast and she unfortunately had to part with Harrison for some kind of birthday celebration they were having. He had tried to get her invited but he’d told her that he was unsuccessful. He left her with one last kiss on her forehead, heading to his room while Annie headed to Delilah’s to help her get ready.
“I can see you swoon every time you see him,” she teased. Annie warningly pulled the Princesses corset a little bit too tight, making her gasp in shock and playfully slap her hands away.
“I don’t swoon,” she defended, her voice quiet. Lilah let out a giggle, rolling her eyes at her friend. The two didn’t really converse that much as Annie finished helping her get ready, making sure she was up to that Princess standard that she always was.
“I’ll tell you all about it when I get back,” she promised, squeezing her hands reassuringly. The handmaiden was trying to shoo her friend, telling her that she’d be late if she didn’t hurry up.
“Go,” she encouraged, basically pushing her out of the door with a giggle, closing it behind her so Lilah couldn’t doubt herself.
She was gone for hours, a very boring, long amount of hours, so she decided to amuse herself.
Annie had been wandering the castle for a little while now, finding it far too boring to stay perched in Delilah’s room the entire evening. She just so happened to walk past the door to the dining room at the wrong time, catching Harrison’s words.
“Delilah, w-will you marry me?” He didn’t want to do this, God how he wished she would say no. He saw the tears building up in her eyes, but when she looked at him they weren’t ones of joy. She didn’t want this either.
Annie felt her heart shatter at the words, a quiet, spontaneous sob managing to escape her lips before she could stop it.
Harrison heard the noise, looking through the small gap in the door and seeing her standing there. He almost broke there and then, forgetting about the whole thing to run and comfort the girl he was definitely in love with, but he couldn’t.
“Yes,” she whispered. He slipped the ring onto her finger with a completely fake smile, hearing the claps from their family members around the table.
The girl didn’t know if she’d ever felt so betrayed. He’d lied to her, he told her this was a family thing for his birthday, now he was engaged to her best friend.
When he glanced back at the door a few minutes later, Annie was gone and he was sure his heart stopped beating for a second. Lilah noticed how pale he’d gone, looking almost like a ghost in her eyes. She could do nothing but squeeze his hand a little bit tighter, knowing if she did anymore than smile then the tears would fall.
Meanwhile, Annie was trying to remember the route they’d taken a few days prior to Tom’s home. She knew he wouldn’t be at the stables this late and so she assumed he’d have gone home to his family.
It was just her luck today that it was still raining, it had been since the early afternoon when it ruined her and Harrison’s picnic, probably trying to forebode to her the events that were going to take place tonight. If only she’d have listened.
Her feet carried her there, digging into the squelching mud uncomfortably, the rain belting down against her already soaked and shivering body. Sobs were falling from her lips without a filter, the noise filling the painful silence of the night. 
She didn’t remember getting into the village, or leaving the gates of the palace, or even leaving the palace itself, but now here she was walking down the streets of the eerily quiet town.
Her eyes roamed the different street names, looking for the one she remembered Tom leading them down.
“Fuck,” she cursed, furiously wiping at the tears in her blurry eyes, assuming that she was lost in the middle of a village that was almost completely unknown to her.
Her shoes on the cobblestone echoed around the vacant street, her heart racing as she had to guess which one was her friend’s home. She knocked on the door that looked the most familiar to her.
She didn’t expect to have actually gotten the right one, but she was greeted with that familiar brunette with his warm smile. His face softened slightly when he saw the state of the girl standing outside his front door.
“Annie, god.” He hadn’t expected to see her showing up at his family home of all places. He didn’t even know how she’d remembered. 
“Thomas, who’s at the door?” He watched as she stood so vulnerable in front of him, clearing sobbing with tears that were impossible to disguise as the rain.
“Just a friend, mother,” he called back. “I think she might need to stay for tonight.” 
She was so grateful to hear him say those words, because there was no doubt that Harrison would be waiting for her back at the palace to try and give her an apology, and she didn’t know if she could face him or Delilah tonight.
And to be fair to Annie, Harrison was waiting. He was waiting nervously in the rain on the palace steps. At first he was hoping to just clear his head, trying to process the fact that he was now engaged to a woman he most definitely didn’t love. But then he remembered the heartbreak written all over Annie’s face when she watched him utter those simple words, and he began to anticipate her arrival back at the palace.
Tom invited her inside with a sense or urgency, wanting to get her out of the rain. He rushed to grab her a towel or anything to keep her shivering form warm.
“Here we go.” He wrapped the fluffy material around her shoulders, gently rubbing her shoulders. He didn’t know if he did it for comfort or if he was just trying to help her dry out quicker, but neither looked as though they were working.
“Can you tell me what happened?” 
She sniffled sadly, her eyes flickering up to Tom’s soft brown ones.
“H-He proposed,” she cried, standing in front of the stable boy like a complete mess. Neither of them needed any names to know what she was talking about. Tom visibly deflated, his heart sinking into a pit in his stomach. Even if the both of them knew this moment had to come, neither were prepared for the emotions it would dig up.
“Fuck,” he cursed. Both of them were hurt, broken, felt cheated in all honesty. But they knew what the other was going through, and it was probably easier that they had another person to share that with.
Tom opened his arms for the handmaiden, making sure his hold was tight when she stumbled into his chest. He rubbed her back comfortingly, trying to hide his own tears that were racing down his face. 
He rested his chin on top of her head, sniffling quietly while she sobbed into the material of his button up.
“We lost them.”
The two didn’t talk much, Tom leading her to his small room with an even smaller twin bed against the wall.
“I can go share with one of my brothers if you-“
She shook her head, wrapping her arms around herself nervously.
“I really don’t want to be alone right now,” she whispered, sniffling quietly. She was quick to jump back in when she realised how demanding she sounded. “I-If it’s okay that is.”
He smiled, climbing into his bed and welcoming her into his arms. It wasn’t intimate in any way, the two just needed all the comfort they could get at the moment and thankfully they could find that in each other.
“Goodnight Tom.” He pressed a friendly kiss to the top of her head, gently rubbing his hand up and down her back. He squeezed his eyes shut to try and hold back the tears that were threatening to spill over the edge of his eyes. He wanted to keep it together at least until she fell asleep.
“Goodnight Annie.”
»»——⍟——««
July 11th, 6:07pm
“Are you ready?” He didn’t answer, biting at the skin on his lip nervously, almost making it bleed. How could he ever be ready to see his pet die? Moonlight had been seriously ill for a few days now and Tom’s father had told him it didn’t look like the stallion was getting any better. Much to his heartache the man didn’t know if the horse would be able to carry on for much longer, and it hurt him so much.
He hadn’t spoken to anyone about how it made him feel, he probably should have and Tom had encouraged him too but the young Prince was certain he could keep it all bottled up.
Harrison shut his eyes tightly, breathing deeply as he felt the knot forming in the back of his throat. He could feel how tense Tom was beside him, hating this just as much as he did, it was never pleasant to see a horse die, they weren’t ones to die peacefully.
He felt a soft hand holding his, his eyes opening just long enough to glance to his side and see Annie.
He didn’t know why but even that simple gesture from her had managed to calm his racing heart and mind just that little bit, and that was all he needed.
It was risky for him to be this close to the handmaiden in public, but Delilah hadn’t come with and he’d needed any form of comfort he could get. Plus, Annie and Delilah were vastly different and unfortunately the girl he shouldn’t love was the one that was able to calm his heart.
She saw the way he winced when the shot was taken, his face turning in her direction so he didn’t have to watch.
Her hand carefully guided his head to rest in the crook of her neck, rubbing up and down his back with the utmost care. Neither of them said anything, other than the quiet shushed from her as she tried to soothe him.
It felt strange that he hadn’t heard her voice in so long.
In almost the week since she’d watched Harrison propose, she hadn’t spoken a word to him, and for that matter neither had Tom. He wasn’t even sure they’d be here today, and now that they were he still wasn’t sure they were going to speak. Delilah had already tried speaking to Tom already and it hadn’t gone very well for her.
He didn’t even look at her as she entered the stable, fiddling with her fingers nervously, arguably the most nervous she’s ever felt around Tom.
“Hi, can we talk?” She assumed he’d already heard about the engagement, whether it was from his best friend or her own, or if it was just because it was currently the buzz of the town. The male did nothing but shoot her a glare, turning his full attention back to the horse that he was trying to wash.
“I deserved that, but look I-“ She furrowed her eyebrows when he’d started to walk away from her, picking up his stuff to go around the other side of the horse.
She followed him of course, standing right in the spot where he wanted to set his water bucket down, so he did anyway.
Tom made no effort to stop the bucket of dirty water from splashing on Lilah’s dress, and deep down he did feel guilty, but not nearly as much guilt as pain.
“Tommy, please.” When he looked into her eyes she could see the clear amount of pain that he was feeling, and she felt awful knowing she’d caused it all. The ring shining on her finger didn’t help him either.
“I think you should go, your fiancé’s probably waiting.”
After that disaster of an interaction, Delilah had tried two more times to apologise to the stable boy, but not once did he give her the time of day. Tom was suffering in silence. He’d been there to comfort Annie everytime she showed up to his family home with tear stained cheeks, her heart aching at seeing the couple waltz around the castle without a care. But not once did he say how he felt.
He missed his best friend, and he missed being able to freely give his heart to the Princess, but he was struggling to let go of the heartache they’d caused him.
He wanted nothing more than to scream from the hills that he was in love with Delilah, but fate wasn’t on his side on this one.
Harrison on the other hand, he was hopeless without his true love by his side, faking smiles all around as he paraded Delilah on his arm like some kind of trophy he’d won. He hated it and so did she, and he hated the look in her eyes that told him she didn’t want to do any of it.
His goal today was at least to try and get her to talk to him, if anything just one word was all he was asking. So when the opportunity presented itself for him to have a moment alone with Annie, he took it.
“Can I please talk to you?” he asked, fiddling with his fingers nervously. She pursed her lips, glancing between Tom and the blonde. She eventually nodded her head, letting him intertwine their fingers together so he could lead her to his room. Tom said his goodbyes to her, shooting Harrison no more than a look.
It was silent as the two entered the castle, the male leading her to his room where they were certain they could be alone.
He took his time closing the door behind him, trying to prepare all the words he wanted to say in his head.
“I want to explain, at least my side of the story.”
His eyes were begging with her, pleading for her to just listen and that was all. The least she could do was hear him out, right?
Annie quietly took a seat on his bed, keeping her distance between the boy, watching him with sad eyes. The second he spoke he was instantly sputtering out apology after apology to her.
“I am so sorry, I didn’t-“ He could barely speak without getting choked up. The blonde was trying his best to swallow the lump in his throat so he could voice what he needed to say, but he was finding it increasingly difficult.
“I didn’t know it was a proposal at first.” 
She didn’t open her mouth, letting him continue on without interruption. He explained how the dinner had started off as he expected, drinks and small talk between the families, a few birthday wishes and jokes here and there.
It’d all changed when Lilah’s dad had slipped a ring box into his hand, telling him that now was the perfect time. He had no say in it, unable to protest the family's wishes. 
He told her how that was when he reluctantly stood up from his seat, gathering everyone’s attention and sending Delilah a wide eyed look of warning.
After a short speech about ‘how he loved the Princess,’ which was actually truthfully about Annie, he had asked her to marry him; Right at the moment his love had chosen to walk past the dining room.
“Is that really what happened?” she asked, gracing him with the sound of her angelic voice for the first time in days.
“It is.” He looked almost guilty as he watched her get lost too deeply in her own thoughts. “I’m really sorry, I don’t want to marry her,” he promised. Annie looked up, locking eyes with him from where he stood before her. She scanned his baby blues, trying her best to decipher if he was being honest or not, of which she thought he was.
“I have been trying day after day to stop it, and Lilah doesn’t want it either.” 
Her voice cracked as she spoke. “Lilah?” 
He realised that he’d never before called her that out loud, not even when they were no more than  friends.
“S-She asked me to, said her full name sounded too formal.” 
She noticed the tears that were building up in his eyes now, how could someone not when they were so clear to see. Annie’s walls were breaking down, she sympathised with him. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and just hold him forever, tell him everything was okay.
“Everything was so incredible, and- and now,” he muttered, his voice shaking with the pent up sadness he’d refused to let go of for so many weeks. “My horse is dead, I’m engaged to a woman I don’t love, my best friend hates me and you, you must hate me too.” The list could go on for him. This past month really hadn’t been what he’d been expecting for himself. Her heart shattered for him.
He finally let the tears fall, his knees giving in and buckling underneath him. As quick as he was on the floor of his chambers, Annie was right beside him, pulling him into her chest.
She tried to stop the tears, whispering comforting words into his ear, but it was like he couldn’t hear her, nothing was registering in his head.
His hands furiously tugged at strands of his hair, running back and forth over his head out of pure frustration and anger. 
He didn’t calm for a while, too worked up for too long over this for it to be over so quickly. All the emotions he’d been hiding and holding back were finally making themselves known.
Annie never left him or loosened her hold on him, not even for a second. She was still whispering things that she hoped would make him feel even the tiniest bit better, and it wasn’t until she said one specific thing that he finally heard her.
“I know it hurts, I know it all hurts,” she whispered, gently stroking the messy locks of hair, messy from how many times he’d tugged at it in the past few hours. “I promise, I’ve got you.” 
Those were the exact words he’d told her the first time they rode Moonlight together. Harrison stared up at her as the tears slowed their stream down his face. Her heart was aching as she watched him break before her.
“Come on.” She helped him off the floor, her arms circling his body so she could guide him to his bed, a much comfier place than the floor in her personal opinion.
“Get some rest, you look exhausted.” 
He didn’t fight it one bit. He curled into her body, letting her protectively wrap her arm around him to reassure him that nothing could hurt him while he slept. It was silly really, and he knew that, but he thought with her around he was completely untouchable by anything bad, she was his safety net.
When Delilah decided to go to bed for the night, if that’s what you wanted to call it, she didn’t expect to find two figures already in there. She squinted her eyes to try and make out who it was from the door, but there was no one else that it could’ve been.
“Annie, what are you doing here?” She forced a smile at Delilah, waving her over to Harrison’s bed. The two hadn’t at all been as close as they had once been due to the whole engagement situation, and it was breaking them both. She still obviously had to do her job dressing her, but it was now very rare that there would even be conversation there.
“You shouldn’t be here A, not in his bed,” she said. She felt a flash of rage fill her at her words, wanting to scream at the girl and ask her why she deserved it anymore than her, but she may have been jumping to conclusions too quickly. “Anyone could walk in and see.” 
The words weren’t said with any kind of venom in her tone, simply just trying to look out for the girl who’d be the one getting into trouble. Annie nodded, willing away the tears that were forming in her waterline.
“He’s hurting Li, I-I was just taking care of him.” The Princess could see her friend getting worked up, gently coaxing her off of the Prince’s bed and into her arms. 
Annie took a deep breath, falling into the embrace of her best friend, letting her head rest against her chest. She felt a wave of emotions overtake her, all that effort she’d taken to stop them no longer working.
She decided being honest would be the best way.
“I love him, I’m so sorry,” she cried, apologising profusely. She shushed her sweetly, running her hands over the back of her hair.
“I know, It’s okay.” 
Delilah reassured her over and over that she wasn’t mad, she just wanted her friend back. She also confessed to being completely in love with Tom, telling the girl how much she was struggling with dealing with marrying the Prince.
“We’re trying Annie, I promise.” She nodded her head, wiping her wet cheeks with a smile. With one last look at the sleeping Prince she decided it was time for her to go back to her own room and get some sleep, she had to be up early tomorrow anyway to get Lilah dressed for her big day.
The walk back was agony, knowing Delilah was in Harrison’s room, the two being made to share by their mothers because that’s what couples do.
She got a few strange looks from some of the guards, but most of them pretended not to notice the emotional handmaiden strolling down the empty halls.
Once she was finally back inside her room she collapsed onto the bed, letting all of the emotions out, including the ones she’d hidden from Delilah, despite her crying.
Her head was buried in her pillow as she sobbed, clinging to it tightly as she felt like her lungs were closing up.
Her eyes trailed down to the ring that was still tightly sitting on her finger, tugging at her heart strings painfully as she recalled the happy moment when he first gave it to her.
Annie didn’t remember falling asleep that night, probably drifting off from the exhaustion that came along with so many pained tears. The next thing she recalls being the moment she felt Harrison’s warm arms circle around her body, pulling her into his chest.
A soft kiss was placed onto her head. Words of affection whispered in her ear.
“You’re the one for me, no matter what.” 
»»——⍟——««
July 17th, 1:07am
Harrison had visited Annie in her room just like the day of his birthday. Waking her in the middle of the night. She had considerably forgiven him after their conversation over a week ago, that bond they had starting to rekindle nicely. It wasn’t uncommon to find Harrison sneaking into her room anymore, but it was uncommon to see him this level of nervous.
“Come in.” She pulled her robe tighter around her body, stepping out of the way of the door so he was able to creep past her.
“How are you?” he asked, flashing her a nervous smile. She rolled her eyes at how he was clearly beating around the bush.
“Why are you here?” He pursed his lips, nodding his head when he didn’t get an answer to his question. He looked up at the girl that was standing in front of him, taking her hands into his larger ones.
“I wanted to spend this time with you,” he said. He was getting choked up already. He leaned forward, gently resting his forehead against hers, giving them a chance to admire each other so close up.
She bit her lip nervously, trying to wish away the tears that were threatening to fall. It didn’t work though, Harrison watching as a few stray tears rolled down her cheeks.
“You’re getting married in the morning, H,” she cried, trying to resist him wrapping her arms around her. He squeezed his eyes shut, determined not to let a single tear fall at this moment.
“I’m going to figure this out, I’m doing everything I can.”
She shook her head against his chest, letting out a heart wrenching sob that made him feel even more guilt than he’d ever felt. He held her impossibly tighter, placing his lips against the top of her head as a single tear ran down his cheek.
“I’m sorry.” 
They didn’t know how long they were standing there in each other’s embrace, hearts aching and a lot of shared tears. 
A sniffle from Harrison brought her attention back to the moment, her arms squeezing his body before pulling back slightly to look at him. Neither of them said anything for a few minutes, simply looking at each other and just understanding the pain the other was feeling.
“I tried Annie, I really did and I-“ She shook her head, placing a soft kiss on his lips. Her hand was resting against his cheek, her lips twitching into a small smile that she was trying to use to reassure him. He could feel his ring pressing against his skin, turning his head to press a kiss to her palm.
She took a deep breath, wiping away the rest of her tears. “I know, and I’m grateful for the time I had with you.”
His eyebrows furrowed, noticing how her eyes had moved from his face almost like she couldn’t stand to look at him.
“Why are you acting like-“
“I think you should go.” It of course broke her heart to say this. She wanted to be selfish, she wanted to run away with him so he didn’t have to get married to someone else, but who was she to do that.
He tried to change her mind, prepared to get on his knees and beg her if he had to. “Please, Annie.” She kissed him one more time, blinking away the tears on her water line.
“Goodbye H.” 
He didn’t move for a few seconds, hoping she would be quick to change her mind so his heart could stay intact. There was no sign that she was going back on her words, but he didn’t know just how much it was taking for her to hold it back.
He eventually nodded, assuming he had no choice but to respect her decision. “Okay, goodbye Annette.” 
It hurt her to not hear the nickname she’d grown so fond of hearing out of his mouth. It felt almost as if he said her name with so much venom.
She watched helplessly as he walked out of her room, and possibly back to the one he was sharing with Delilah.
“Fuck,” she cursed. She buried her head in her hands, slowly sinking to her knees on the floor as she let out a heartbreaking sob. She finally let it all out when she couldn’t see him anymore, assuming he hadn’t cared enough to stick around outside her door too long. That’s where she was wrong though.
Harrison was standing just on the other side of the door, his head rested against the wood listening to her cry. He wanted to go back inside and comfort her just like she had the night Moonlight had been killed, but he didn’t want to overstep his boundaries. He took a deep, shaky inhale, finally building up the courage to walk away. 
She barely got an ounce of sleep that night, tossing and turning with all the possibilities of what could or is going to happen tomorrow. Sometimes having an overactive mind was a gift but right now she would do anything to just make it go away. She was exhausted when she finally gave up trying to fall asleep and got out of bed instead, deciding that she could be productive instead.  
You could clearly see the bags underneath her eyes from just how tired she was, but that would all be covered with wedding makeup anyway. 
Maybe if she had taken up Harrison’s offer of letting him sleep in her room tonight, the final night they could be together, she’d be feeling much more energized. 
An early morning walk was what the handmaiden expected would be the only thing to help to clear her head. And by early morning, she meant around six am. She expected there to be only the guards doing their morning shifts, however she was proved wrong when she saw all the people setting up the wedding in the grand hall. She felt herself getting choked up, this looked exactly like the wedding her and Delilah had planned together when they were no older than twelve. The only choice in her mind right now was to distance herself from the preparations as much as she could, and that meant heading outside the palace walls into the beautiful gardens. 
It was quiet out there, the only sounds filling her ears being the chirping of enthusiastic birds in the air. She pulled her wrap tighter around her body, trying to keep herself warm in the slight chilly breeze caused by the wind. 
The last thing she expected to find there was a small girl crying, her eyebrows furrowing in concern for the stranger. She approached cautiously, not wanting to startle her at all.
“Hello, I don’t think we’ve met.” She bent down to the small girl’s height, holding out her hand to introduce herself. “I’m Annette.”
She looked up with a sniffle and tear stained cheeks. Her eyebrows drew together, staring at the girl as if she was trying to place her.
“You’re the pretty girl that my brother’s in love with.” 
Annie wasn’t sure she’d heard her right, laughing nervously as the girls tears came to a spontaneous halt. 
“What’s your name?” 
“Charlotte.” Annie briefly remembered Harrison mentioning the name of his little sister, that being Charlotte, so if she had to take a guess after what she just heard she could very confidently say this was Harrison’s sister. She brushed it off though more concerned with finding out what was bothering the child.
“And what’s wrong, angel?”
Charlotte explained to the woman how she’d managed to lose one of her dolls and the gardens were now one of the only places she had left to search, and upon quick glance it wasn’t there. Annie reassured her that they would find it together, offering her hand as they began to look around through the rows of flowers. 
The Prince did not expect to see the lovely handmaiden holding his sister's hand when he was told the Princess was running around somewhere outside. 
Harrison didn’t need this today, seeing Annie be so good with his little sister was just forcing him deeper in love with her. It hurt worse than anything he could’ve imagined.
He cleared his throat when he was close enough that he was sure they’d hear him. Their heads whipped around, Annie’s smile slowly dissolving from her lips. Charlotte was the opposite, grinning wider with her gappy smile as she ran towards her big brother. 
“Hi, precious.” Nothing needed to be said. There was a lot of pain in this one area and even Charlotte was sensing it, the poor eleven year old confused as to what was happening. “Can you head inside for me, go find mum?” She nodded her head, waving goodbye to the woman she’d just met. The pair watched her scatter off before succumbing to the all too unfamiliar awkward silence that engulfed them. 
Harrison opened his mouth to speak, to tell her what? He didn’t know. Maybe he’d apologise for not fighting harder for this wedding to not go ahead, or for not fighting hard enough in the early hours of this morning, but it didn’t matter anyway, because in a matter of seconds Annie’s lips were on his and that was all he needed. 
So many unsaid words were forgotten as soon as her soft lips met his slightly chapped ones, but she didn’t care about that, it was like a wake up call. 
That would be for sure the last kiss they got to share, filled with so much passion and love that it was a shame that it was ruined by their salty tears streaming down from their closed eyes. 
“I have to go get ready,” she whispered, pulling away and letting her eyes flutter open. Harrison was thinking, and she could tell, taking that time to admire his face. It was something she’d begun to do out of instinct whenever she was this close to him. He sighed, his breath fanning her face. She watched as he opened his eyes, meeting hers instantly. He nodded, sniffling before turning his head and kissing her palm like he’d done just a few hours before, with the softest puppy eyes looking in her direction.
He cleared his throat, deciding to put his heart on the line, knowing she wouldn't let him fall. 
“I love you Annie, with my entire heart.” The corner of her lips twitched, a gentle, barely there smile teasing him. That was the first proper time he’d said those words to her, catching the air from his lungs. For a few seconds he was terrified she wouldn’t say it back, breathing heavily through his nose as his eyes nervously flickered over every one of her features. 
“I love you too.”
The ceremony came around quicker than anyone wanted. The morning rushed by in a flash or nerves and helpless tears from both females getting ready. The girls had a chance to reconcile properly, telling each other this was no one’s fault but the much higher royals. With a lot of breathing and makeup retouches and they were ready to go, flowers in hand and hearts in pieces.
The doors opened and the classic music began to play, Harrison focusing his eyes on the large archway. Everything became a blur of white noise when his eyes focused on her, the beige coloured dress trailing along the floor, her beauty completely mind numbing, ruined by the water welling up in her gorgeous eyes. 
Annie's teary eyes mirrored Harrison’s as she walked down the never ending pathway that was the aisle. He sent her a warm smile, the glimmer of adoration he always got when he saw her ever so present. He thought she looked beautiful, she was taking his breath away even though she did that on a normal basis. He could only imagine this is what it’d be like waiting for her at the end of the aisle. His eyes drifted to Tom’s, the man who was the one leading her down the aisle, their arms locked while she carried a bouquet of pretty roses. 
He looked very formal in the suit he’d been given to wear. Harrison was insistent that whether they were on talking terms or not, his best friend was going to be a part of his wedding. This was possibly the first emotion besides anger and disappointment that Tom had shown him all week. His eyes were mirroring Harrison’s, a sense of lingering sadness behind them. 
Not too much longer and Harrison was taking a deep breath as the priest before them began to speak, reciting the same things Harrison had heard at every wedding he’d ever been to. 
He glanced out at the people watching for a moment, seeing all the mixed expressions and emotions in the crowd. He gave a small, discreet wave when he noticed that the entire Holland family had gone, Paddy sitting there with a rather evident frown on his face, even at ten years old he knew this wasn’t how this was meant to go. 
“Prince Harrison, do you take her royal highness Princess Delilah-“ Annie bit her lip nervously, so hard she was almost drawing blood. It felt like the worst kind of torture, seeing your best friend marry the man you’re in love with. As it happens, Harrison’s plan didn’t work, just like he had expected it wouldn’t even if it was worth a try. He thought if he was honest with his mother and more or less begged her not to make him go through with this, that there’d be a slight chance of sympathy from her, but oh how wrong he was.
“Mother please, I need to talk to you.” She sighed, stopping in her step and also tugging Charlotte to a halt to face her son. She had a rather annoyed look on her face, but at the end of the day Harrison was her child, so seeing him look so hopeless and torn up destroyed her inside. 
“Please don’t make me do this, I don’t love her I-”
“There is nothing we can do, we need this unity Harrison.” He huffed, running his hands through his hair with a dry laugh. “I’m sorry, honestly I am, I see the way you look at Annette.”
Harrison sniffled, trying to push away the tears from the stress of the moment. Charlotte hated to see her brother this way, wishing she could do anything to make sure he got his fairy-tale ending with the girl he loved. 
“If you truly were sorry, you wouldn’t do this.”
And with that he walked away, losing his hold on the last bit of faith he had for him and Annie to ever be together. 
The wedding was beautiful, and no one could deny that. Delilah had been perfecting it since she was a child, but it was all unfortunately overshadowed by how much they didn’t want it, any of it. The pair at the altar had no idea how they were meant to keep up a loveless marriage for the rest of their lives, especially if they were expected to have children. While she was overthinking the night before, Annie realised she’d have to go back to her job as normal eventually, but Lilah would be Harrison’s wife, and everyday she would be helping her get ready in their room, for them to complete royal business together.
It was getting hard for her to hold back her tears now. The girl wiped them away as quickly as they fell so no one would see. But someone did, and that person just had to be Queen Alice.
“Oh, it’s lovely isn’t it?” She’d clearly taken these for happy tears, the woman taking the younger ones hand in hers to hold tightly as she watched her daughter get married. Annie’s eyes drifted to the Queen, but seeing as she didn’t trust her voice at the moment she just simply nodded her head. 
When she looked back her eyes locked with Harrison’s ocean ones. Except now it looked like an ocean in a storm, grey, dark and cloudy. She had to force herself to look away, sniffling quietly. 
Then it came time for the vows, the vows that Harrison wrote with Annie in mind, only she didn’t know that much. Hearing the words spilling out of his mouth, about his eternal love, about the times they’d spent together even in the short time they’d known each other, about how much she meant to him; It destroyed her inside. 
There was a look shared between the handmaiden and the stable boy from opposite sides of the room. The look that told the other that their hearts were basically in pieces right about now, they were in the exact same boat, and the boat was sinking drastically fast. Harrison and Delilah were only just managing to hold it together out of professionalism only. They had been trained their whole lives to act stoic in moments of severe stress and anger. 
“I now pronounce you, Husband and Wife.” There were cheers and applause from most people throughout the room, the people that didn’t see the obvious act the royals were putting on for their families' selfish deal. “You may kiss the bride.”
The kiss was stiff and awkward, nothing like what the Prince felt that first time he kissed Annie, as well as any other time he kissed her because it never seemed to lose its excitement or spark. Tom watched in disgust, turning his head away with a prominent frown. 
“Paddy?” Tom whispered, turning his head to look at his younger brother with tears in his eyes. The boy frowned, placing his hand on his brother’s arm comfortingly. “What was the message of that book? The one you were reading that day in the stable.” 
“Romeo and Juliet?” he asked, unsure. Tom nodded, remembering the familiar sounding name. “Not all love stories have a happy ending.”
━━━━━━━━━♡♥♡━━━━━━━━━
harrison osterfield taglist → @seutarose @euphorichxlland​ @hjoficrecs @call-me-baby-gir1​ @hazardosterfield​ @icyhollands​ @hollandbroz-n-haz​ @hopelessly-harry​ @siriuslyslyslytherin​ @musicalkeys-blog​ @itstaskeen​ @zspideyy​ @chrisosterfield​ @givebuckyhisplumsnow​ @lowkey-holland​ @hollandcrush​ @wizkiddx​ @sannie-san-shine​ @hopeless-romantic-baby​ @thehumanistsdiary​ @dummiesshort​ @itsbieberxholland​ @lillucyandthejets​ @piscesparker​ @bvttercupbby​ @kujokura​ @l0velyevans​ @jess-holland23​ @captainamirica​ @gog0juice​ @annathesillyfriend​ @whoeveniskendall​
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oversharingempath · a month ago
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I’m really cold right now. I cleaned my room earlier today. My favorite cereal is Apple Jacks. I can see out the window from where I’m sitting. I’m a senior in high school. I hate fast food burgers. I take my showers at night. The last color I dyed my hair was black. I still sleep with a stuffed animal. I have a piece of jewelry that means a lot to me. I changed the calendar to February today. I woke up before 12:00 noon today. I’m on a laptop right now. The walls in my living room are white. I’m more afraid of snakes than spiders.
I take a vitamin every day. Ice cream is my favorite dessert. I have a bad habit of biting my nails. I have my hair in a ponytail the majority of the time. I like to read mystery books. There’s nothing playing on the TV right now. But I am listening to music. My favorite animal is something domestic. I have broken a bone before. I am a fairly decent cook. I can’t cook, but I love to bake. Sometimes I get jealous of my best friend. The website I’m on most often is Facebook. I took a picture of myself today. I have taken part in a Walk For Hunger. I used to be a girl scout. I am wearing something red right now. I usually go to bed sometime after midnight. I wish I could stay my current age forever. I have never had a boyfriend. I have been a member of my school’s marching band. I play the flute. I enjoy being under the water more than on top of it in a swimming pool. I really want to buy a new cell phone. I have read at least one Stephen King book. I sing in the shower if/when other people are home. I do not like skinny jeans. My favorite fruit is strawberries. I finished a book this week. I like musicals. I have naturally curly hair. My nails are painted purple. I’ve seen the movie Blades of Glory. I love to play video games. I play solitaire on my computer when I get bored. I don’t live in the United States. I have a picture of my boyfriend in my room. My walls are covered with posters. I’d rather listen to CDs in the car than the radio. I have a bunch of woods in my backyard. I am afraid of heights. The Faculty is my favorite alien movie. I’ve been to Florida. I’ve written a love poem before. I had a swing set in my yard when I was little. My parents are both republicans. I love the movie Finding Nemo. I love Simon & Garfunkel. I have similar musical taste as my parents. I saw Avatar in 3D. I wish that I could move to the city. I’m going to a Super Bowl party next weekend. I own a pair of oversized sunglasses. I love guys that have brown eyes. My family gets cable from Comcast. Google is probably my most visited website. Country is my favorite type of music. I no longer go to high school. I’ve read the book 1984. I love oreo cookies. The Notebook made me cry. I’m going to eat dinner soon. I’ve been sleeping a lot lately. I never get sleep anymore. I have a couple papers that I have to write. I hate pimples by my nose. Cats are so cute. My arms having been falling asleep a lot today. I think I’m getting sick. I have a song stuck in my head right now. It’s by a band that a lot of people don’t know about. My pet’s fur is EVERWHERE. I seem to feel hungry all the time. I seem to always feel tired. I really like art. I hope to be successful in my future career. I love white grape juice. I tend to dance and sing obnoxiously in the car. I like to freak people out. I actually like watching the Olympics (both Summer and Winter). I’d rather take the stairs than the elevator. Unless I have to go up to like the 15th floor. I don’t charge my phone every day. I’m moving within the next few months or so. ^I’ll be around the same area though. The Golden Girls ALWAYS makes me laugh. Reese’s Eggs taste better than regular Reese’s. I hate touching public doors, bathrooms, etc. I’m older than 20. I feel old compared to all my friends. I could spend a whole day in a bookstore. I am going to the movies tomorrow. I’m waiting for a band’s CD to come out. I’ve never broken a bone. I’m not embarrassed about ANY music in my iTunes. I don’t have a boyfriend, and honestly, couldn’t care less about having one. I’d rather watch TV on DVD than repeats. I don’t really have any friends anymore. I get migraines all the time. It sucks. I would NEVER want to be a doctor. But I like the medical dramas. I really want to lose at least 20 lbs. I love walking in the woods. My pet goes nuts a lot. I’m bored over 90% of the time. The Beatles take up most of my iTunes. I love listening to music I listened to growing up. It seems like no one ever listens to me the first time I say something. I hate when I get an eyelash (or whatever) in my eye. I wear glasses. I have more than 2000 Tweets on Twitter. There is a certain genre(s) that I cannot stand. I hate most of the bands/artists played on the radio. I have Sirius/XM Radio in my car. I plan on buying a new release DVD this week. I never go to bed as early as I should.
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justfrozenthings · a month ago
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The Sea Nymph
Pairing: Kristoff/Anna
Rating: T+
Notes: I finally started writing that mermaid fic I have been saying I would write since like December! Yay! I will try to post as often as I am able. I also haven't really planned out this fic either so that this will be an experience. I plan on making this super long and maybe even adding shorter stories to it. I honestly have no clue what I am doing. Also, would just like to note that a majority, and if not, all of this won't be looked over by friends who understand grammar better than me, because they are usually too busy. So prepare yourselves to see some poor literacy mistakes. Enjoy!
Summary: Kristoff has always loved the sea, and after meeting her he didn't know it was possible that he could love it more.(I will try to make a better summary later on. But for now, this will have to do.)
Kristoff sat on a lava rock as he gazed across the expanse of the crystal blue waters of the ocean. Growing up near the sea had made him unable to stay away from it for long periods of time. But, after the passing of his parents, it was too hard for him to stay in the small town they called home in Norway. So that’s why he moved here, to a secluded little place on the shores of a tropical island that not many people knew the name of. Come to think of it, he didn’t even know the name.
   He had come upon it after stopping by to fuel up his boat, while he was on a two-month fishing trip with a friend, or I guess he should now say ex-friend after Hans chose to follow a much more sinister fisherman’s life. But that will be a story for another time. Even though it was a bit warmer than to his liking, he decided to give it a chance. Upon arrival, he had discovered that the island had quite a few different biomes, and while humid, he found that where he currently resided was one of the towns with cooler weather due to how often it rained.
   As he got up from where he sat he patted his leg and whistled for Sven, his Norweigian Elkhound, who was currently hunting down the tiny fish in the tide pools. Sven happily trotted over to his faithful owner and joined him as he walked along the shoreline.
  It wasn’t long before Kristoff noticed a fisherman’s net caught on some rocks up ahead. “I swear,” he grumbled, “some people just don't know how to take care of our oceans huh Sven?”  Sven barked in agreement.
   Kristoff strode over to the net, taking off his shoes as he grabbed his knife from his pocket. “Stay here buddy. I’ll be right back.” He carefully slid into the water and followed the rope to the sandy bottom of the ocean. It wasn’t necessarily deep per se, but for being so close to shore it wasn’t shallow either. Only then, did Kristoff notice that the rope was moving, but it wasn’t due to the movement of the waves...something was tugging on it. Something big.
   A wise man probably would have turned around and swum back up to shore. Kristoff however, was determined to free this rope and whatever it was down there, no matter how dangerous it might be. Doing so would bring him comfort, knowing that he helped nature in some way.  But, as he got closer to the bottom, what he saw was certainly not what he was expecting.
   There, laying on the sandy seafloor was a mermaid. Her hair was like copper and her tail was an emerald green, dusted with specks of gold. Kristoff almost forgot what he was doing as he was too stunned by her beauty. He pulled himself out of his reverie and swam down to where she was entwined with the net and seaweed. She looked terrified, more so especially upon noticing him. She struggled to pull harder at the rope in hopes of escaping but calmed once he took out his knife and began cutting away at it.
   Luckily, it didn’t take very long before he cut it to where she was able to wiggle herself free. However, as she tried to swim away she wobbled and fell to the floor once again. Not having much longer before he had to swim back to the top to catch his breath, Kristoff quickly and gently scooped her up, hoping he hadn’t frightened her in doing so. When he broke to the surface he gasped for air, feeling the mermaid tremble against him as he made his way back over to Sven.
   As Kristoff pulled himself onto the rocks, being careful not to hurt the poor girl, Sven gave a curious happy bark as if he were asking, “Whatcha got there?!” Frightened by this the beautiful redhead clung tighter to Kristoff’s neck, burying her face in his chest. That brought him some relief, knowing that while she was afraid of Sven, who he knew wouldn’t hurt her, she seemed to be comfortable around him. Kristoff doesn’t know if it was because he freed her that made her trust him, but he decided not to question it.
   Not knowing what else to do, he decided to speak up. “Hey..umm. You don’t need to worry about Sven.” he said nervously, “He won’t hurt ya.” She peered up at him with shy eyes that he swear resembled the sea and gently stuck her hand out for Sven, shutting her eyes tightly until she felt him lick her hand. She peered away from Kristoff’s shoulder, gently stroking the downy fossil gray and carob brown fur of the happy-go-lucky dog. She giggled, moving from Kristoff’s lap to sit on her knees so that she could pet Sven some more.
“Thank you for saving me by the way.” Kristoff looked up from where his hands were curled up in his lap, eyes open wide from the shock of hearing her voice. “I have never met a human who would do such a charitable act. That’s why I didn’t try to escape after you brought me up here. I knew that any human who was kind-hearted enough to help me would never have any intention of doing me any harm.”
Kristoff rubbed the back of his neck nervously, trying to look anywhere but her as he just now noticed that she wasn’t wearing a top and her breasts were exposed. His mother always taught him to be a gentleman. He also still could not get over the fact that there was a real-life mermaid right in front of him. Mythical beings that he only thought existed in fairytales until now.
“Oh-uh, yeah. It’s no problem.”
“Well, I should at least give you something in thanks.”
“Seriously, it’s okay,” Kristoff chuckled. “I was just doing the right thing.”
They stared at each other smiling and Kristoff swore he felt some sort of connection. But, he just passed it off as astonishment due to seeing a beautiful being. He also noticed how many freckles she had and wondered just how far those freckles went. He shook the dirty thoughts from his mind, mentally punishing himself for thinking such things. Among these observations, he also noticed that her tail had deep gashes from the net. He couldn’t let her go back into the ocean without helping clean them up a bit.
“Umm,” he cleared his throat. “That net cut you up pretty bad. If you’d like I can take you back to my place and get them cleaned up for you.” She gave him a confused look, “I-I mean...as long as you’re comfortable with that. I’d hate to pressure you...cause...well.” He thought it was best to stop talking before he made the situation even more awkward.
To his surprise, she giggled. She actually giggled. “I would appreciate that very much thank you.”
He smiled softly. “Great!,” he said with a bit too much excitement. “So...I think the only way I could get you over there is by carrying you. Are you okay with that?”
“Oh. Umm. Yeah...that’s fine,” she said as she nervously tucked a piece of auburn hair behind her ear. “I’m Anna by the way.”
He bent down and carried her bridal style back to his home. “Kristoff.”
End Notes: Sorry, it wasn't very long. I felt that was a good place to stop, and honestly just wanted to finally get a chapter of this fic posted. I feel like I made their introduction a little weird, but that's what my brain had me write out.
Ao3
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